When we understand that food is our medicine, life changes. I was brought up with an awareness of the healing quality of foods, and I am fortunate to have spectacular cooks in my life to nourish and expand my horizons.
Recently I visited my editor and friend, Leda Scheintaub, and her husband, Nash Patel, at their popular South Indian food truck, Dosa Kitchen, in Brattleboro, Vermont. I had never had a dosa—a fermented rice and lentil crepe—before I met them, and now I wonder how I ever lived without them. Dosa Kitchen offers a variety of fillings, each one as delicious as the next. The hardest thing you’ll have to do when you visit is decide what to order. This chutney is one of the side dishes that complement their dishes perfectly.
Slow-Roasted Tomato and Garlic Chutney
The chutneys we are most familiar with are sweet, most famously the mango chutney served Northern Indian restaurants. But chutneys from the South of India are more on the savory side, and where Americans will reach for ketchup, South Indians might choose tomato chutney. This version of tomato chutney slow roasts the tomatoes in the oven with ample garlic to balance the tang of the tomatoes and two types of chiles for heat. Because the tomatoes shrink down so much, you’ll need a fair amount of them. As good local tomatoes can be costly, when you see seconds on offer, that’s the time to make this chutney!
Makes about 3 cups
4 pounds medium to large tomatoes
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
8 unpeeled garlic cloves
4 fresh green chiles, stemmed
2 tablespoons unrefined sunflower oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
¾ teaspoon cumin seeds
3 dried red chiles, stemmed and broken into pieces
1 teaspoon urad dal (a small, tan-colored lentil)
Handful of fresh curry leaves
Preheat the oven to 200°F.
Quarter the tomatoes or cut them into sixths or eighths if they are large. Place the wedges on a baking sheet and drizzle with the oil. Scatter the garlic cloves among the tomato wedges and season lightly with salt. Place in the oven and roast until the tomatoes are a bit shriveled and mostly dried with a little of their juices remaining, about 6 hours. Squeeze the garlic from the peels, transfer the tomatoes and garlic to a blender, add the green chiles, and blend until smooth.
In a medium saucepan, heat the sunflower oil over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. One by one, add the spices without stirring: first the mustard seeds (they will start to pop, and if they threaten to pop right out of the pan, cover and lower the heat a tiny bit), followed by the cumin seeds, then the red chiles, urad dal, and curry leaves. The goal is for the red chiles and curry leaves to darken a couple of shades, taking care not to let them burn. Add the blended tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Season with salt, let cool, then serve or spoon into a jar and place in the refrigerator, where it will keep for about 1 week.