Tomato chutney is a traditional South Indian condiment made with tomatoes, spices and herbs. It is usually served with South Indian Breakfast dishes like Idli, Dosa, Pongal, Rava idli & many snacks. But don’t limit it to accompany South Indian foods! Try this tomato chutney with sandwiches, pakoras, parathas & any snacks. It tastes simply delicious with just anything.
Each family may have a different recipe made to suit their taste & liking. So there are numerous ways it is made.
Traditionally tomato chutney was made by crushing roasted tomatoes, garlic, chilies, tamarind, cumin seeds and salt in a mortar pestle. Nothing else was added to it.
Most South Indian households enjoy a variety of chutneys with every meal & snack. We Telugu speaking people make spicy hot chutney with almost every seasonal vegetable. Our meal is incomplete without having a chutney. This tomato chutney is one of the most commonly made in my home.
The recipe I have shared here is the way we make at home. My Mom would always add some more ingredients like chana dal, urad dal, roasted peanuts or sesame seeds. These ingredients basically add a unique flavor to the tomato chutney.
Apart from enhancing the nutrition & flavor, these ingredients also thicken the chutney a bit.
1. On a medium heat, dry roast 1 tablespoon chana dal (bengal gram) and ½ tablespoon urad dal till golden and aromatic. If you do not have dal, you can use 2 tablespoons peanuts. Roast them until golden and aromatic. Next add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds to the hot pan & toss for a while. Set aside to cool.
2. Pour 1 tablespoon oil to a pan and fry 4 to 6 red chilies till crisp. Do not burn them.
3. Add 1 medium onion cubed and 1 to 2 garlic cloves. Fry them as well for about 3 to 5 minutes or until the raw smell of onions goes away. You can also brown the onions lightly. Some people like to add garlic directly to the blender for the raw flavor. You can also do that.
[Substitute: If you don’t eat onions and garlic, you may skip onions here and just use ginger instead of garlic]
4. Add 3 large chopped tomatoes, ½ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon turmeric. Fry all of these until mushy. I do not add tamarind to this chutney as the tang from tomatoes is sufficient. If you prefer you can add very little.
5. The raw smell of onions and tomatoes should go away. Next set aside to cool completely.
How to make onion tomato chutney
6. Next add red chilies, cumin and roasted dals as well to a blender jar.
7. Make a fine powder. You can also blend all the ingredients together but I prefer to blend the dal finely first.
8. Add garlic, tomatoes and onions.
9. Next blend to a smooth or coarse texture to suit your liking. If using peanuts you may need to pour little water to adjust the consistency. Taste test and add more salt.
10. Lastly heat 1 teaspoon oil in a pan. Add ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds and ¼ teaspoon urad dal. Fry until the dal turns golden. Add curry leaves and red chilies. Turn off when the leaves turn crisp. Sprinkle hing.
Finally pour this to the chutney. I usually use the same pan I sauteed the tomatoes in, for the tempering. So I add the chutney to the pan after tempering since the oil is too little.
Serve tomato chutney with breakfasts or snacks.
There are tons of variations one can make to the basic tomato chutney. Here are the variations you can make to your tomato chutney using the following ingredients.
Onion tomato chutney – Onion is one of the main ingredient used to bring in a mild sweet aroma and balance the tang from tomatoes. However onions are an optional ingredients and can just be skipped in the recipe. You can also replace onions with shallots.
Red chilies are most commonly used to add spice and heat to the tomato chutney. However they can be replaced with green chilies but the chutney turns out to be extra hot. Also red chilies will yield a bright color to the chutney.
We do not eat very spicy foods so I have used red chilies. For extra heat do add in some green chilies.
In the onion tomato chutney recipe, the amount of onions, tomatoes and red chilies can also be altered to suit ones taste. The color of the chutney may vary based on the type and number of red chilies used.
Tempering tomato chutney with mustard, curry leaves & red chilli takes it to a new level and adds aroma. However if you are diet conscious you can skip it.
Variations of tomato chutney
Peanuts or dal – In some parts of Andhra pradesh , chana dal & urad dal are used to make most chutney varieties as both these roasted lentils help to balance the heat and add a nutty aroma & taste.
In recent times, we have been loving peanuts in this tomato chutney. If you love the flavor of roasted peanuts then do try them. More details in the recipe card.
Garlic or ginger – Garlic or ginger is one of the key ingredients in any chutney to add a unique aroma. Traditionally raw garlic is added to most chutneys but roasting it reduces the pungent smell. If you do not eat garlic, then just use ginger.
I have not used tamarind, you can add in a bit for that unique flavor and taste.
If making tomato chutney for rice, avoid making it runny and cook the tomatoes until the moisture evaporates completely.
Most South Indians serve chutney with breakfasts like idli, dosa, vada and even with plain rice & ghee. I also use this tomato chutney to serve with snacks, sandwiches, pakora and rolls. Smear the chutney on bread or rotis then add your favorite filling. You will love this!
I also smear this over the rotis for making kathi rolls for my kids.
Tomato chutney can be made ahead & refrigerated for 2 days. A tadka or tempering to the refrigerated chutney brings back freshness to the chutney.
Ingredients (1 cup = 240ml )
- 3 large tomatoes chopped
- 1 medium onions cubed (optional)
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 tablespoon chana dal (bengal gram) or 2 tbsp peanuts
- ½ tablespoon urad dal (skinned black gram) (optional)
- 4 to 6 dried red chilies or green chillies or ½ tsp red chilli powder
- 1 to 2 garlic cloves (or ½ inch ginger)
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
- ½ to ¾ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- ⅛ teaspoon turmeric
To temper tomato chutney – optional
- 1 teaspoon oil
- ¼ teaspoon urad dal (skinned black gram) (optional)
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
- 1 dried red chili (broken to 2)
How to make the recipe
How to make tomato chutney
- Heat a pan with 1 tablespoon oil.
- On a medium flame, roast chana dal & urad dal (or peanuts) until aromatic & deep golden.
- Add half teaspoon cumin seeds & saute for a minute. Remove to a plate & set aside to cool completely.
- Next add 4 to 6 red chilies and fry until they turn crisp.
- Then add 1 cubed onion & 2 garlic cloves.
- Fry them until a sweet aroma comes out from the onions. This takes about 3 to 5 mins.
- When the onions turn golden add 3 large chopped tomatoes, ¼ teaspoon salt & 1/8 teaspoon turmeric.
- Saute until soft & mushy. The raw smell of onions and tomatoes must go away completely.
- Cool this and blend until smooth. Taste the chutney and add more salt if needed.
- You may need to pour little water if using peanuts.
- If you like thick chutney & the tomatoes are pulpy you can also skip water completely.
Tempering tomato chutney – optional
- If you are on a low fat diet you can also skip the tempering. Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan.
- Add ¼ tsp mustard seeds and ¼ tsp urad dal.
- When the dal turns golden, fry 1 sprig curry leaves and 1 broken red chili till the leaves turn crisp.
- Add hing & onion tomato chutney to the pan and mix. Or pour this tempering to the tomato chutney.
- Serve with idli, dosa and pesarattu. You can also refrigerate the chutney & use.
NUTRITION (estimation only)
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips.