So, er, this is awkward, since I already told you about a tomato jam in August. And, er, yes, you're right, tomato season is all but over. (Not entirely, but almost.) But I kind of need you to forget all about that other tomato jam and the fact that the tomatoes at the market are dwindling fast. Forget about all that right away. Today. Now.
Because a few weeks ago I made a tomato chutney from this book by way of The Traveler's Lunchbox and, it's the most curious thing, I haven't been able to stop spooning it out of the jar since. It is quite something. I mean, who eats chutney from a spoon? This is not the kind of thing I am usually in the habit of doing. Just so we're clear. But this is no ordinary chutney, no.
This tomato chutney makes my mouth glow on the inside, which is a most wondrous feeling. And it tastes incredible, like a tomato come to life in the middle of an Indian jungle, though I am biased, it's true: you could coat a tomato in tar and I'd probably still want to eat it.
Let me try to describe it at least. Imagine a tomato, all fresh and succulent, cooked down into jamminess with fiery bits of ginger and garlic and rust-colored cayenne. There are raisins, for a little extra sweetness, and cloves and cinnamon, too. But then there's a big glug of vinegar that straightens everyone's collars out and makes your mouth pucker with pleasure. Between the vinegar and the cayenne and all that fresh ginger and garlic, the chutney is incendiary, in the best possible way.
I could almost guarantee that you will find yourself hoarding it, instead of giving it away as you might think you would after lining up all your neatly-filled crimson jars just after filling them. It's the one thing in my pantry that I can't part with. Not yet.
I like putting it on a cold chicken sandwich, for example. Or dolloping it next to a piece of plain, sautéed fish to goose it up a little. I've eaten it with sharp cheddar on nice bread for a lunch that lingered in my mouth long after I finished. And it's brilliant with eggs, scrambled or fried. Best of all is chopped into homemade egg salad. Good night!
But like I said, I've also eaten it straight from the jar, which I'm a little embarrassed to admit, but you know, sometimes it's just best to be honest about this kind of thing.
Whatever you decide to do with it, the point is: make it. Today. Now. Before the very last plum tomatoes have gone.
And if they already are gone, forgive me, kind reader, for winding you up. It was cruel of me, I know. To make it up to you, maybe I could even send you one of my jars? Maybe. Let me think about it. I'll get back to you.
Niloufer Ichaporia King's Parsi Tomato Chutney
Source: The Traveler's Lunchbox
Makes about four 8- to 10-ounce jars; recipe can easily be doubled
3 pounds (1.5 kilos) ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup finely-julienned peeled ginger (about one 2.5-inch/6-cm-long piece)
1/2 cup thinly-sliced garlic (about one large head)
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) cider vinegar
1/2 to 1 cup (75 to 150 grams) raisins (optional)
2 cups (400 grams) turbinado sugar
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
1 small cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons salt
1. Open a window or two in your kitchen. Place all the ingredients in a heavy nonreactive pot and, over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, stirring well. Continue to cook, stirring every five to seven minutes (more frequently towards the end of the cooking time), until the chutney has the consistency of a soft jam, about an hour. Be careful not to scorch the chutney.
2. While the chutney is cooking, sterilize four or five glass jars and lids in boiling water or a hot oven. When the chutney has finished cooking, ladle it carefully into the clean jars and quickly screw on the lids. Turn the jars upside-down to cool. If you plan to eat the chutney within a few weeks of making it, there's no need to can it; simply keep it in the fridge.