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Hot and Spicy Tomato Chutney (Takkalipayam Chatni)

Hot and Spicy Tomato Chutney (Takkalipayam Chatni)
Asafetida, a resinous substance obtained from two species of the giant fennel, is best known for its foul smell. The odor is released when the spice is ground but is miraculously transformed during cooking into a sweet garlicky-onion aroma. Asafetida is always used in small amounts of 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. It can be replaced with minced garlic.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp. powdered asafetida (see note) or 1
      tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. curry powder
  • 8 fresh hot green chilies, slivered
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and slivered
  • 1 1/2 lb. tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2-inch-
      thick wedges
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, plus more, as needed
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

Directions:

In a fry pan over high heat, warm the oil. When hot, add the cumin and fry, stirring, until it turns several shades darker, about 30 seconds. Add the asafetida, curry powder, chilies and ginger and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and 1/2 tsp. salt and mix well, then let the tomatoes cook, undisturbed, for 2 minutes.

Carefully stir and turn the tomatoes and continue cooking until they are soft but still hold their shape, about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with the lemon juice, taste and adjust the seasonings with salt, as needed.

Serve hot, at room temperature or cold. The chutney can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 5 days.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Savoring India, by Julie Sahni (Time-Life Books, 2001).