Asian, Asian spices, Bengali cuisine, birds eye chillies, black mustard seeds, chilli, chillies, Chutney, coconut palm sugar, common law, condiment, Crops in Pots, Cumin, easement, equator, garlic, ginger, History Repeating, kasoundi, kasundi, law of easements, northern Australia, northern hemisphere, palm sugar, preserves and chutneys, Preserves and pickles, Propellerheads, recipe, roast tomato chutney, Roast Tomato Chutney Recipe, sambal, sambal oelek, sambal ulek, Shirley Bassey, summer, Thai chillies, Thai fish sauce, Tomato, Tomato Chutney, tomatoes, tumeric, urban garden guerilla, urban gardening, winter
It just so happens I was discussing the law of easements the other day, and I began to think the same principle could apply to recipes. Here, in Victoria, the common law principle of an implied (or prescribed) easement still operates, where an easement is created after 20 long years of use. Given I’ve now been making this recipe for that exact amount of time – it was passed on to me by a friend’s mother in 1994 – I feel I can claim it to some extent. After all, when you make a recipe over many years, you inevitably put your stamp on it. But, like an easement, the recipe doesn’t legally belong to me – I just have the use of it, which is why I’m sharing it here.
You may well ask why I’m posting a tomato recipe in the depths of a south-east Australian winter, when tomato growing is the sole preserve of those with hothouses. Firstly, I’m thinking of my northern Australian and northern hemisphere readers, many of whom, no doubt, are growing tomatoes. And then there are those fortunate folks who live near the equator, who can grow tomatoes all year ’round. But I’m also posting it for myself, to preserve this recipe before the original copy (right), in my friend’s mother’s graceful script, disintegrates completely. It looks like it should be under glass in a museum.
This chutney is a true labour of love, using four kilos of tomatoes and producing about a kilo of chutney, if you’re lucky. But it’s worth it. From the first year I made it onwards, I gave jars of the precious stuff to good friends and family each Christmas. One year I even hand painted the labels with miniature scenes relevant to the recipient (I must have had lots of time to spare back then). But this ritual of mine firmly established the infamy of the chutney. A neighbour of nine years would polish off the chutney in a month or so and return a larger jar, in hope that he’d get a bigger portion the following year. He probably still misses his annual dose, and in those days I held the recipe close to my chest. It was my specialty; my secret. Now, I’m not so precious – the Internet is a generous space and one should share and share alike. So here it is – ‘My’ Infamous Roast Tomato Chutney Recipe. It’s time-consuming but not difficult, and truly, so very, very good.
Roast Tomato Chutney
- 4 kg ripe tomatoes, peeled*
- 300 ml olive oil
- 400 ml malt vinegar
- 4 tbsp black mustard seeds
- 200 g chopped fresh ginger
- 20 cloves garlic
- 10 birds eye or Thai chillies
- 2 tbsp tumeric
- 4 tbsp roasted cumin seeds
- 2 tbsp sambal oelek
- 250 g palm sugar**
- 100 ml Thai fish sauce
- *I’ve traditionally used Roma tomatoes but this year I used my smaller homegrown varieties. To peel the tomatoes, slice a cross in the bottom of each tomato with a sharp knife and cover with boiling water. This makes what is a tedious job that much easier.
- **Palm sugar is not related to palm oil – its full name is coconut palm sugar.
- Soak the black mustard seeds in the malt vinegar overnight (in other words, think ahead).
- Roast the tomatoes in the olive oil for 2 – 3 hours in a hot oven (400˚F/210˚C). Check occasionally to make sure the tomatoes aren’t burning on the edges. If so, cover loosely with foil.
- While the tomatoes are roasting, puree all the other ingredients in a blender. In a large, heavy-based pot, simmer the puree for about 1/2 an hour then add the roasted tomatoes and oil. Simmer for a further 1 – 2 hours, stirring every now and then.
- While the chutney is cooking, sterilise approximately 5 x 250g jars and lids. The chutney is ready to bottle when it has thickened, smells divine, and looks something like the picture to the right.
- If there’s a bit of chutney left over after bottling up – bonanza! Try it warm, on bread or crackers with cheese … I guarantee you’ll find it hard to stop.
Four years ago, while assisting in the making of bucket loads of tomato kasoundi (kasundi) for the school fete, it struck me that ‘my’ Roast Tomato Chutney was a superior (vintage) version of the condiment that seemed to be on everybody’s lips. It’s funny how an old recipe – according to my friend’s mother it came from ‘one of the women’s magazines’, probably in the 1980s sometime – can resurface as the trendiest thing in town. So, if my chutney is technically a kasoundi, it’s a damn fine one. The slow roasted tomatoes add a distinct flavour and the combination of Asian spices and pastes make it far more subtle than any kasoundi I’ve ever tasted. But then, I’m obviously biased. If you end up making ‘my’ recipe, I’d be interested to hear what you think. Get crackin’, all you northerners!
P.S: As a long time admirer of Crops in Pots, and following a detailed discussion about growing and utilising tomatoes with the mover & shaker behind the organisation, ‘Crops’ decided to make ‘my’ chutney’. Here are the mouth-watering results: A Melodious Monsoon Meal.