Cooked with juicy red tomatoes, flavored with spice mix and red chilies – this chutney has always been my favorite. Chutney, as we all know, is a condiment that is made with vegetables or fruits, flavored with spices and can be sweet, savory or sour.
Originated in India, the varieties and variations of chutney are endless!
Tomato chutney (or chaatni) can be prepared in many different ways. My friend from Bangalore makes savory tomato chutney with garlic and curry leaves. It is smooth in texture, has a spicy flavor and usually served with Dosa. Another variation that I enjoy is the roasted tomato chutney with tamarind. It is like a tangy dip.
But my favorite still remains the same – sweet tomato chutney with a subtle spicy flavor in between.
In Bengali cuisine, a special meal always ends on a sweet note and chutney plays an important role. It is either made with fruits or vegetables, mostly whatever is in season. Sometimes it is served in a tiny bowl as a dessert and sometimes, as a side dish to pair with some spicy curry.
For this recipe, tomatoes are roughly chopped, slow cooked until they soften and all the juices are released. Then, they are tampered with spices and sweetened with sugar. Raisins, dates, jaggery or dried fruits can also be added. Herbs are not typically used in the sweet tomato chutney but I am sure that some freshly chopped cilantro leaves will add a beautiful refreshing flavor.
Back at home, chutney is served with chicken or mutton curry on the side with steamed white rice. And that is exactly what I prefer. However, it didn’t stop me from trying the chutney with bread, crackers or cheese!