Tomato chutney step-by-step recipe with photos.
About South Indian Chutney
Chutney is a condiment that is served alongside breakfast, snacks, and street food. Their taste may vary - sweet, tangy, savory, spicy. The chutney served with snacks is usually sweet and tangy whereas a good chutney served with breakfast is savory and spicy.
Chutney is an integral part of South Indian breakfast. Be it idli, masala dosa, plain dosa, vada, or even upma, breakfast is incomplete without chutney for South Indians. It is made of some simple ingredients and easy chutney recipes are paired with most breakfast dishes. Dosa chutney is one of the most favorite breakfasts in India.
When we talk about South Indian chutney, the main ingredients that come to mind are fresh coconut and cilantro. This coriander coconut chutney is the most common variation and is made using fresh coriander leaves (cilantro) and fresh mint leaves. Well, here is a chutney from South Indian cuisine that is made without coconut and is perfect for your idli and dosa.
About this recipe
This onion tomato chutney is very simple to make and goes very well with any South Indian breakfast dish. Also called thakkali chutney, this homemade tomato chutney tastes great and pairs with South Indian breakfast. It is very versatile and can also be used as a spread for wraps and sandwiches or as a dip with finger foods.
There are tons of variations and numerous ways of making this chutney. I have tried several variations and have arrived at this best-tasting chutney. My version of this recipe calls for cooking the tomatoes with onion and spices, grinding, and topping it with a very simple tempering (seasoning/tadka).
It is important to use fresh ripe tomatoes to make this chutney. Canned tomatoes will not work well here. The seasoning is made using some basic ingredients and can be skipped. This easy and simple tomato chutney recipe has a longer shelf life when compared to coconut-based chutneys.
Tomatoes: Use ripe and juicy tomatoes to make the chutney.
Onions and garlic: I prefer to use red/pink onions but you may also use brown onions to make the chutney. Add more garlic if you like a strong garlicky flavor.
Chana dal and urad dal: (split yellow peas and split black gram/lentils) They form the base of the chutney.
Green chili and curry leaves: You may adjust the amount of green chilies based on your preference. Curry leaves add a nice earthy flavor to the chutney.
Tempering: I use mustard seeds, black gram, dried chili, and hing to make the tempering for the chutney. Fenugreek seeds are also added but are optional.
Step-by-step photos and instructions
Heat one tablespoon of oil on high heat and fry 3 tablespoon chana dal, 1 tablespoon urad dal, curry leaves, and green chili on medium heat (step 1).
Add onion and garlic, and saute for 2-3 minutes (step 2).
Add the chopped tomatoes. Simmer until the tomatoes are fully cooked, then cool the mixture completely (steps 3, 4).
Cool the mixture to room temperature and blend it into a smooth paste (steps 5, 6).
To make the tempering, heat a small pan on medium flame and add one teaspoon of oil. Add 1 teaspoon mustard seeds and let them splutter. Add the rest of the ingredients for tempering - dry red chillies, curry leaf, one teaspoon urad dal, and a pinch of asafoetida.
Pour the tempering on the smooth chutney and mix well before serving (steps 7, 8).
There is no need to add any water when cooking the tomatoes or grinding the chutney. If you want to make a thin or runny chutney, add a little water when grinding.
This chutney tastes best with fresh tomatoes. Canned tomatoes or tomato puree do not work well with this dish.
This chutney can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week in an airtight container. It can also be frozen for a long time (up to three months). If you are freezing it, make sure you defrost it overnight in the fridge before using it.
Apart from the key ingredients used in this recipe, here are some optional ingredients and substitutes:
- Use red chilli powder instead of green chillies.
- You can also add a small amount of turmeric powder along with onion and tomatoes.
- Add one teaspoon cumin seeds to the tempering.
- Add red chilies to make a spicy chutney. Red chiles and red chili powder increase the color of the chutney.
Making the tempering for the chutney is purely optional. It can be skipped and the chutney can be served without tempering.
This tomato onion chutney tastes great not just with South Indian breakfasts and is also served as a side dish with main meals. It can also be used as a spread for sandwiches or a dip with finger foods.
Follow this delicious dosa recipe to serve with chutney.
Also, check out this peanut chutney recipe, which is also made without coconut.
This South Indian tomato chutney is:
- very easy to make and uses minimal spices,
- vegan and gluten-free,
- goes very well with all types of dosa and idli,
- keeps good in the refrigerator for up to five days,
- a great alternative to spreads in sandwiches and wraps.
For the chutney:
- 5 large tomatoes diced
- 1 large onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 3 tablespoon split Bengal gram chana dal
- 1 tablespoon split black gram urad dal
- 5-6 curry leaves
- 2-3 green chili or serreno (adjust as per taste)
- Salt to taste
For tempering (tadka/seasoning) - Optional:
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1-2 dry red chilies
- 1 teaspoon urad dal
- ½ teaspoon hing asafetida
- 5-6 curry leaves
Make the chutney:
- Heat a frying pan or kadhai and add 2 teaspoons of oil.
- Add chana dal, urad dal, curry leaves, and green chili. Saute for one minute.
- Add garlic and onions. Saute for 2-3 minutes, until the onions begin to soften.
- Add tomatoes and salt, and mix well. Cover and simmer until the tomatoes are completely done.
- Turn off the heat and let it cool completely.
- Blend it into a smooth paste.
- The chutney is ready to be served at this stage.
Prepare the tadka and finish: (see notes)
- Heat a small frying pan and add one teaspoon of oil.
- Add mustard seeds and let them splutter.
- Add the rest of the ingredients for tempering - dried chili, curry leaves, urad dal, and hing.
- Turn off the heat and add the temper to the chutney.
- Mix well and serve.