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.
About this recipe
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 recipes 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.
I first shared this recipe from my mom in April 2015. I have been making another easier version these days so thought of updating this post with that one too. This one too goes well with breakfasts, snacks and even with plain rice.
It is a super quick version & is made without a blender. This is a no onion recipe so the chutney lasts for a couple of months in the refrigerator.
How to make tomato chutney (stepwise photos)
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.
Grinding 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.
Most South Indians serve chutney with breakfasts like idli, plain dosa, medu 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.
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.
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.
Recipe 2 – Spicy tomato chutney
This is the easiest way to make tomato chutney especially when you want to make a large batch. It tastes tangy, hot, spicy and slightly sweet. You can easily tweak the recipe to suit your taste. You can reduce the red chilli powder to make it less spicy.
Since this is a no-blend chutney, deseed the tomatoes before cooking. Also use ripe tomatoes that are not too sour. The recipe is divided into 2 simple steps – first saute and cook the tomatoes. Lastly add the spice powder and temper the chutney.
500 grams ripe tomatoes (deseeded and chopped)
1 tablespoons oil
¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon Ginger (¾ inch)
2 to 3 tablespoons Kashmiri red chilli powder (adjust to taste, I use 3 to 4 tablespoons)
½ teaspoon mustard powder
¼ teaspoon roasted methi seeds powder
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon salt (more to adjust)
1 tablespoon jaggery (adjust to taste)
1 to 2 tbsp oil
¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
½ tablespoon ginger (or garlic, optional)
1 sprig curry leaves
1 pinch hing
1. Heat a pan with 1 tablespoon oil. When the oil is hot add ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds and 1 tablespoon fine chopped ginger. Saute them well until the ginger turns fragrant but not burnt for about 30 to 60 seconds.
2. Then add 500 grams of chopped deseeded tomatoes and ½ teaspoon salt. Saute them for 2 to 3 mins.
3. Cover the pan and cook until completely mushy and soft.
4. Open the pan and give a good stir. Cook until the mixture turns slightly thick. You will need to evaporate the juices a bit. If the tomatoes are too chunky, mash them with a spatula.
5. This is the consistency you must be looking for before adding the spice powders. Then add 1 tablespoon jaggery (sugar), 1/8 teaspoon turmeric & 2 tablespoons red chilli powder. I also add ½ teaspoon mustard powder and ¼ teaspoon roasted methi seeds powder. Use them only if you like the flavors. Mustard powder imparts a pungent flavor and roasted methi seeds powder will impart slight bitter tones with a nutty aroma.
6. Give a good mix & taste test. Add more salt & red chilli powder if needed. Cook for 2 mins and turn off. Do not overcook at this stage.
7. In another small pan, heat 1 to 2 tablespoons oil. Then add ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds ½ tablespoon ginger (optional). When the ginger turns fragrant, add curry leaves and hing. Turn off when the curry leaves turn crisp.
9. Pour this over the hot tomato chutney. Give a good stir and cool completely before storing in a glass jar. This keeps good at room temperature for 2 days and a couple of months in the fridge. This tomato chutney develops a good flavor after a day.
Serve tomato chutney with any snacks, breakfasts and even with plain rice. We usually mix this with hot rice and ghee.
Tomato chutney is an Indian condiment made with tomatoes as the main ingredient. Various spices and herbs are used to flavor up the chutney.
This chutney lasts for 2 days at room temperature and for a couple of months in refrigerator.
Eat this with Indian breakfasts like idli, dosa & parathas. It also goes well with snacks like pakoras and sandwiches. It is also eaten with rice and ghee.
Ingredients (US 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 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.
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 above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
This post was first published in April 2015. Updated & republished in Dec 2020.