As my Dad’s retirement day was approaching, my Mom started worrying more and more. He was never the kind of man who can sit idle or relax with a book and a coffee. His to-do list never got over and he enjoyed being active, on his toes all the time, including vacations. And once in a blue moon, when he spent a weekend afternoon over a long nap or with no work at all, he would regret saying ‘I wasted a day’. No matter how much Mom would try to explain him that we all need to slow down once in a while, it was not something he could ever deal with. So you can imagine my Mom’s state of mind when they moved to Kolkata after Dad’s retirement.
Turns out that Mom never had to worry at all. He still managed to find some tasks to keep him busy. May be not as much as before, but enough to keep him happy. Even at this age, he doesn’t care to stop or rest much. Mom says ‘he has wheels on his feet!’
One particular activity that kept him most energetic was gardening. It started from two to four pots and now, we have a terrace full of pots, mostly flowers and few veggies in between. And every time I visit home, I get to taste whatever homegrown is available in that season.
Last year when I visited home for my brother’s wedding, I got to taste some papayas and green tomatoes. The green tomatoes were still very tiny and needed more time, but Mom couldn’t wait and let her daughter leave without taking a bite. And Dad felt very proud of his gardening skills as I admired how stunning those tomatoes looked.
She made a delicious chutney with those tomatoes! It was tangy and creamy with a hint of spice from green chili. So good that I had to share it with you.
In Bengali cuisine, chutney plays a very important role and gets prepared more often than you can imagine, especially during summer. It’s always made with whatever veggie or fruit is in season and served as a side dish for lunch, to relish with the rice.
This green tomato chutney is probably one of the quickest but trickiest of all that I have prepared so far. It is tricky because of the mustard paste, which when added too much or cooked for too long can make the chutney taste very bitter. So, the timing and measurement is very important. I used whole mustard and ground it to a paste, but to make life easy, dry mustard powder can also be used.
- 4 to 5 medium size green tomatoes
- 2 teaspoon whole mustard or 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 2 green chilies, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel powder
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Using a coffee grinder, grind the whole mustard to powder.
- In a bowl, mix mustard powder with chopped green chilies and 1 tablespoon water. Mash it to form a paste like consistency.
- Cut the tomatoes length wise in bite sizes. In a pan, heat some oil and add fennel seeds. Let it cook for a few seconds and then, drop the tomato pieces. Season with salt and let it simmer at medium heat until it is tender when poked with a fork. Keep stirring to avoid it from getting burnt.
- Then, add mustard paste and sugar, mix properly and allow it to cook for a couple more minutes.
- Add fennel powder, stir and let it cook for 1 minute.
- Switch off the heat and serve it warm or at room temperature.