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Tomato Chutney: A Sweet And Sour Ending To A Bengali Meal

The Bengali plate from an eater’s viewpoint: At any given level of time, you possibly can classify the Bengali plate, as per the patron, to encompass a number of of the next sorts of meals – “charba, choshya, lehya, peya”. These 4 parameters are how meals is consumed by the eater – ‘charba’ refers back to the meals gadgets one can chew and devour, ‘choshya’ is to be sucked and eaten, ‘lehya’ are these issues one could lick, and ‘peya’ signifies on the issues one could drink. These 4 strategies could typically merge – a dish could contain a number of strategies of consumption. In that, the ‘chutney’ principally is assessed within the third class – that’s, to lick.  

The Origin of Chutney 

The time period ‘chutney’ or ‘chatni’ as it’s recognized in Bengal, signifies the tactic of consumption – coming from the Hindi phrase ‘chat’, ‘to lick’, that has connotations within the Sauraseni Prakrit time period ‘chat’, indicating the motion of consuming one thing noisily and with an excessive amount of enjoyment. There are many sorts of chutney that may be traced again to so far as 500 BC, and the presence of the chutney within the Indian culinary lexicon is indisputably appreciable. From those which can be aged and matured for months and years to the rapidly ready ones, the presence of chutney is extraordinarily essential to the plate, and there are a number of explanation why the chutney is current within the meal. Of course, an important is a fast refreshment of the tastebuds, a distinction to the prevailing flavours on the plate, like a type of palate cleanser, to be trustworthy. But chutneys serve different, extra essential functions, like aiding in digestion, cooling down the physique, decreasing irritation or tantalising the tastebuds when there is a lack of urge for food.  

Also Read: How To Make Quick Lehsun Ki Chutney At Home

Tomato Chutney Recipe (Photo Credit: iStock)

Sweet and Sour Endings  

Typically, in Bengal, a chutney is served on the finish of a significant meal for the day, like lunch or dinner, and is seen as a type of the digestive, that ends a meal on a candy and bitter notice and is, subsequently, a welcome finish to a meal in the summertime. As a toddler, I’d typically discover chutney served in my family between March and October for lunch, and it could be on the finish of a meal. Early summers would see the looks of mangoes and bael within the family, to be made into thick, sugary murabba, which might be then aged within the solar for a minimum of a few months earlier than it could be deemed match for consumption. However, they not often lasted that lengthy, due to marauding fingers of tiny mites resembling I, and the happiness of stealing them straight from the jar and consuming them with an excessive amount of relish and trepidation (for the concern of being discovered) is a fond set of recollections from my childhood. However, some chutneys could be ready and consumed inside a day or so, and amongst these had been runny uncooked mango chutneys, pineapple chutney and a perennial favorite was the easy tomato chutney, which might veer between scorching, bitter and candy, and an effective way to finish lunch on a scorching summer time afternoon.  

The tomato did not acquire recognition in Bengal till fairly late. In reality, up till the late 1800s, the tomato was seen as an unique vegetable, and related to one thing ‘overseas’, which resulted within the time period ‘biliti begun’, which might be translated as ‘overseas aubergine’. In the guide ‘Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors’, Liz Collingham notes that tomatoes began to get fairly standard within the 1880s. “The Bengali names of many European vegetables indicate that the Bengalis were introduced to them by the British. Tomatoes are referred to as biliti begun or English aubergine. It took longer for tomatoes to become popular, but George Watt noticed in 1880 that although they were still “mainly cultivated for the European inhabitants… Bengalis and Burmans use [them] of their bitter curries.” Nineteenth-century tomatoes were sourer than the ones we are accustomed to today and they were particularly well suited to the Bengali style of sweet-and-sour cookery.” (Collingham, p. 166) It might be stated that on this spirit the tomato might need began making an entrance into the Bengali foodscape, and given the proclivity of imaginative cooks, they obtained inducted into totally different preparations slowly. A

Ayurveda means that tomato is a rajasic ingredient, and will increase vata, kapha and pitta dosha within the physique resulting from its tendency of remaining bitter even after digestion, leading to acidity and flatulence, the addition of cumin and pepper can cut back these results. This might be the rationale why the tomato chutney recipe made by my mom would have a little bit of black pepper in it.  


Easy tomato chutney recipe (Photo Credit: iStock)

The commonest methodology of making ready tomato chutney is with a contact of ginger and pepper in my family and dates again to the 1950s on the very least. This would not comprise different standard additions, like dates and mango leather-based (aamshotto), but it surely does have a wholesome chew from the addition of crimson chillies. It is suggested to make use of ripe, crimson tomatoes for this explicit recipe, and freshly cracked pepper, and the result’s relatively great on a scorching summer time’s afternoon, on the very finish of a meal when a ladleful of the chutney could be unceremoniously dumped unto the plate after ending off the whole lot else. It can also be essential to notice that as per my grandmother, after consuming chutney or something bitter, one shouldn’t drink water instantly, as a result of it impacts the throat and may induce congestion within the chest. So, the prudent factor to do could be to rearrange for one thing candy proper after the chutney, in order that one could end the meal on a sweeter notice.  

How To Make Bengali Tomato Chutney  | Bengali Tomato Chutney Recipe:


Bengali-style tomato chutney recipe (Photo Credit: Poorna Banerjee)


  • 250 gm. ripe, crimson tomatoes, quartered  
  • 1 giant pinch Bengali five-spice (a mix of fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds and brown mustard seeds or wild celery seeds, recognized generally as randhuni) 
  • 1/third cup sugar  
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger  
  • 1/4th teaspoon crimson chilli powder 
  • 1/4th teaspoon coarsely crushed black pepper  
  • 1 pinch of salt  
  • 1 tablespoon mustard oil  


Heat mustard oil in a pan over medium warmth and when it loses its uncooked odor, add the panch phoron and let it splutter for 10-15 seconds. Then, cut back warmth and add the grated ginger. Let this infuses with mustard oil for 30-35 seconds.  

Add the tomatoes and canopy the pan instantly. Cook over simmering warmth for 6-7 minutes, or till the tomatoes are now not uncooked. At this level add the sugar and 1/third cup of water, after which let the water come to a boil. Once it does, add the crimson chilli powder and the pepper, then stir over medium-low warmth until the chutney liquid coats the again of the spoon, about 3-Four minutes. Remove, let cool utterly, then serve.  

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About Poorna BanerjeePoorna Banerjee is a meals author, restaurant critic and social media strategist and runs a weblog Presented by P for the final ten years the place she writes concerning the meals she eats and cooks, the locations she visits, and the issues she finds of curiosity. She is deeply taken with culinary anthropology, and meals historical past and loves books, music, travelling, and a glass of wine, in that order.

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