Thakkali Chutney (Tomato chutney)

During my early blogging days, I posted pics of tomato chutney made with both red and green tomatoes and wrote that I'll post the recipe soon. That 'soon' never came until Sowmya posted a comment on that old post, a couple of days ago asking for the recipe.
Since it also fits with my theme of the month, easy cooking with few ingredients - here it is. The photo is a capture from the iPhone of the breakfast we had earlier this week.

Choose firm but fully ripe red tomatoes for this. I have chosen the Bangalore variety as it is fleshier with less water content and seeds compared to the local variety, which means this chutney takes lesser time to get dried up and ready. It may be less sour than the local variety, which you can remedy by using some tamarind extract or ready tamarind paste.

Authentic Tamil Brahmin style will not have garlic. This is my addition and it tastes equally good minus the garlic.

5 large ripe red tomatoes, cubed roughly
1-2 tbsp gingelly oil

For tempering:
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
3-4 dried red chillies, broken into bits
fat pinch asafoetida
1 tsp Chana dal
1 tsp udad dal
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
1-2 sprigs curry leaves
4-5 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced (optional)

1 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 - 1 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder

  1. In a heavy bottomed kadai, heat the oil. Splutter the mustard seeds.
  2. Add chana dal, udad dal and stir until golden.
  3. Next, add the asafoetida, fenugreek seeds, curry leaves, red chillies and garlic and stir for a minute or so on medium heat. 
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes and the salt. On medium to high flame keep stirring until tomatoes break down, get cooked and become pulpy. This should take roughly 8-10 minutes for this quantity. Towards the end, add the turmeric and red chilli powder. Check for salt and adjust.

Serve with idlis, dosas or mix into steamed and cooled rice to make tomato baath. You can also use this as a sandwich spread.This will stay for 3-4 days in airtight bottle in the fridge, but we use it all up at one go.
Traditional Tamil chutneys, pickles are mostly made with gingelly oil. It gives its own taste to the preparation. You could however use any oil of your choice, including mustard oil for a sharp pungent taste to the chutney. Garlic is completely optional. You will get a whole different taste dimension just by using or omitting this one ingredient.

Add a handful of chopped mint leaves or a tsp of dried mint to this during the cooking process.
If you find that the tomatoes are not sour enough, add 1/2 tsp of tamarind paste to the tomatoes while they are cooking for that tangy mouthwatering effect.
Try this with green tomatoes, when they are in season.

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