Indian Tomato Chutney with Mustard Seeds and Garlic (Tamatar Ki Chutney)

Indian Tomato Chutney with Mustard Seeds and Garlic (Tamatar Ki Chutney) Recipe

Tamatar Ki chutney is an Indian tomato chutney flavored with fresh curry leaves, mustard seeds and garlic. It's usually served with basmati rice or roti (an Indian wheat-basde flat bread). I love this chutney so much and we make it so often that I usually use the leftover chutney as the base for the tomato sauce in my pasta. I recently used that sauce for my vegetarian lasagna.

Since I married Lulu, I discovered a wide range of sauces and chutneys that were totally unfamiliar to me. Lulu's grandma was an amazing cook. When she discovered that I like to cook as well, she was very exticed to teach me all her secret recipes. In most of the world, cooking techniques are orally transmitted from mothers to daughters. I always find it amazing that these recipes, techniques and tips have managed to survive for as long as they have. I feel very fortunate to have learned from such talented cooks like my grand-mother-in-law.


Yields: 1 quart

5 tomatoes
2 onions, finely chopped
5 Tbs canola oil
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1/2 tsp smoked paprika powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp mustard seeds
8 oz tomato sauce, 1 small can
3/4 cup water, as needed (depending the thickness of the chutney)
2 Tbs basmati rice, uncooked
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp tamarind concentrate
3 dried red chiles, stemmed
3 garlic cloves, cut in 3
6 fresh curry leaves, torn in 3
3/4 tsp gray salt
1/2 tsp black peppercorns, freshly ground, to taste


Dry roast the basmati rice over the stove until the grains of rice are slightly golden. Grind the rice in a mill.

Dry roast 1 teaspoon of cumin and 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds. Grind both spices in a spice grinder (I use a coffee mill that I exclusively use for grinding spices).

Gather 2 teaspoons of spice powder and 1 teaspoon of toasted rice flour. Set aside.

This step is optional but I like that the chutney is skinless. Here's a neat method to peel tomatoes. Make a small criss-cross cut at the bottom of each tomato using a bread knife (I use a breadknife because the blade won't bruise the fruit). Fill a saucepan with cold water and bring to a boil on the stove. Place the tomatoes in the water and wait for at least 30 seconds. Remove the tomatoes quickly (I use a large strainer), then transfer to a ice cold bath to stop the cooking process. The skin of the tomatoes will come right off. Cut the tomatoes into halves.

Place the blanched tomatoes in a food processor and briefly pulse the tomatoes, about 2 or 3 times. The tomatoes should still be chunky. Set aside.

In a saucepan, add 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the onions. Cook until the onions become transluscent for about 3-4 minutes.

Add ginger garlic paste to the onions. Add paprika, red chili powder and about 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds. Add the can of tomato sauce. Lower the heat to a medium low and cook for about 30 minutes. Add about 3/4 cup of water. Bring the liquid to a boil.

Dissolve the spice powder and rice flour in a little water. Add the liquid to the tomato mixture. Stir continuously as the liquid will thicken very fast in about 2-3 minutes. Taste the chutney and depending on how sweet the fresh tomatoes initially were, add sugar and tamarind concentrate to balance the sweet and sour taste. Remove from the heat and transfer the chutney to a bowl.

This step is called baghar. In a small sauce pan, add the rest of the oil. Once the oil is hot, add the chunks of garlic, whole dried chiles and the remaining teaspoon of cumin seeds. As the garlic gets golden, add a teaspoon of mustard seeds and the curry leaves. The mustard seeds will start popping in the hot oil. As the garlic blackens, immediately transfer the hot oil and spices to the bowl of chutney. Cover the bowl with a lid.

Serve at room temperature

Bon appétit!


I usually use the leftover chutney as the base for the tomato sauce in my pasta.

Gnocchi sauteed in an Indian Tomato Chutney
As soon as I finished sauteeing gnocchi in butter, I add the Indian tomato chutney combined with extra tomato sauce. It gives the dish an extra dimension.

If you want to use the tomato chutney as a sauce for pasta, just combine one part tomato chutney and one part tomato sauce to get a thinner consistency and a less intense flavor. 

You can find tamarind concentrate in any Asian store. It had a nice tart flavor.

Indian cuisine always call for ginger garlic paste. It tastes great and is very healthy for you as well. Just clean the ginger and remove any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife, then finely chop the root. Place the chopped ginger and 5 cloves of garlic in a blender, add about 2 tablespoons (or more) of water for a smooth flow. Transfer to a small jar and store in the refrigerator. You can keep this paste for at least a week in the refrigerator.

Baji, Lulu's grandma, always used to freshly grind all her spices and other ingredients for an optimum flavorful result. I know all the nutrients are preserved. I use the Nutrimill brand mill for making rice flour. I got it several months ago and it's very hepful to make any kind of flour. It's a great complement for gluten allergies as well. I make my own flour with buckwheat, oat, sorghum and spelt.

The last step of making this tomato chutney is called baghar. Baghar is a finishing touch in a lot of Indian dishes that contains a fat element, spices and a few herbs.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on May 18, 2009.


[-] Tomato Chutney - Guest-Elyse
Man, this tomato chutney looks fabulous! I love all the fabulous spice going on. Plus, using it with the gnocchi was genius!! Way to fuse Indian and Italian :)

Elyse Website Link
[ Posted at 8:39 PM on 5/18/09 | Reply ]
[-] Foodie with Little Thyme! - Guest-cassie
Lots of my favorites in one dish. I'll have to bookmark this one.

cassie Website Link
[ Posted at 11:24 AM on 5/19/09 | Reply ]
Oh yum, love this recipe!

Wizzythestick Website Link
[ Posted at 7:09 PM on 11/21/09 | Reply ]
Dear Jacqueline,

Thank you for sharing this great recipe. I tried it today and have a question. You don't mention in your recipe when fresh tomatoes should be added to the mixture. I put them after 30 min of boiling the onions with tomato sauce but found the chutney too liquid.
And one more question. If you didn't have fresh curry leaves, would you use dried ones?
[ Posted at 1:45 PM on 3/15/12 | Reply ]

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