Tuesday, 21 July 2015

bengali tomato & chilli chutney - perfect for summer cooking

Everyone finished with the Eid overindulgence? No. Me neither. I am trying though. I've signed up for swimming lessons. Yay! I'm now officially an adult beginner! (no, I'm not embarrassed). And Instead of saying yes to every morsel of food I am now saying yes to every other morsel of food:) So today I began by making a very simple chicken curry and my mum’s tomato and chilli chutney. Tomatoes are packed full of goodness and I thought this would be the perfect antidote to the rich food served up for the weekend festivities. I’d be lying if I told you that I couldn't stomach another fried samosa or more chicken biryani. (Who says no to samosas and biryani anyway?) 

However I do regret not packing up treats, such as coconut and molasses doughnuts and savoury rice flour cakes, which my mum is an expert at. I won’t even attempt to make them without assistance and I don't think there is a recipe out there, as mum learned from my grandmother the old fashioned way - by watching. Just think of a full afternoon, or day in the kitchen. Now that's what I call a labour of love. She even grinds her own rice instead of using the shop brought stuff and adds secret ingredients that she’s super cagey about. You don’t want to argue culinary secrets with my mother believe me!

Anyway back to this amazing chutney! I could literally eat it by itself. It’s that good! I wanted a savoury accompaniment for summertime cooking so I asked mum about her chutney. Imagine a perfect partner to smoky barbecues and grilled fish. I'm not really a salad person so chutneys are my thing. I don’t like raw tomatoes either but wanted a dish that included cooked tomatoes that wasn't pasta sauce. Due to the humid heat and late night feasting there’s been a steady stream of various chutneys that mum prepared and this was just one of them. It's spicy, but not chilli sauce spicy, sweet and tangy with a lovely smokiness from the charred tomatoes and fried dried chilli.

Ingredients (Serves 2 as a side, or a dip for 4)
3 large tomatoes on the vine, halved
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 dried red chilli
½ tsp panch phoron (Bengali five spice)
½ red onion finely chopped
½ tsp salt (plus extra for sprinkling)
3 tbs vegetable oil
1 tbs brown sugar
Mint to garnish

Heat 1 tbs of oil in a frying pan on low heat. Add halved tomatoes, skin side down and sprinkle lightly with salt before covering with a lid.

Blister the tomatoes for about 15-20 minutes, or until the skin is charred and starts to leave the flesh of the tomatoes. Check once or twice. Remove the skins, chop roughly and set aside.

In a clean pan add 2 tbs oil and on medium heat fry the dried red chilli until it is almost black and smoking. Remove from the oil and leave to crisp up further.

Return pan to the heat and add the Bengali five spice. When the seeds start popping add the crushed garlic and fry until golden, before adding chopped onion and salt and sugar. Cook for about five minutes, or until the onion is slightly caramelised.

Turn off the heat and mix the chopped tomato with the garlic and onion. Lightly crush the blackened chilli with a pestle and mortar and ensure everything is blended together, before transferring to a serving bowl.

Garnish with fresh mint and serve as a side with grilled fish, barbequed chicken or as a dip. 

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