“Better than Ketchup” Tomato Chutney

More kick and personality than ketchup

December 22, 2010

Wonderful wherever ketchup is needed, this will give an extra kick and personality. It is also great added into mayonnaise to make an aioli-like dipping sauce, or added to marinara sauce for more depth of flavor. The late Sheila Lukins, author of the Silver Palate series of cookbooks, named this the “Better than Ketchup” tomato chutney. Make it once and you will taste why.


  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 40 fresh or 60 frozen curry leaves, roughly torn
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 12 dried red chile peppers (or less for a milder chutney)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric powder
  • 1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced into half moons
  • 1/2  cup toasted American peanuts
  • 3 1/2  pounds tomatoes, roughly chopped (see note)
  • 1 (4.4-ounce) tube double concentrated tomato paste (or 9 ounces tomato paste)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Sambharherb blend (recipe follows) or 1/2  teaspoon curry powder (store-bought)



1. Heat the oil with the curry leaves, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and chile peppers in a large pot or skillet over medium-high heat until the cumin seeds are browned (about 2 minutes). Add the turmeric and cook until the chiles darken (about 1 to 2 minutes). Add the onion slices and cook till translucent and slightly brown around the edges (4 to 6 minutes). Add the peanuts and cook for 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and pressing the tomatoes against the sides of the pot to mash them if they are not breaking apart on their own.

2. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the chutney is thick and jammy (if canning, cook until the mixture is very thick, about an additional 20 to 35 minutes), stirring often (see note). Taste for seasoning, transfer to a covered plastic container, and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Note: If using hard winter tomatoes, the chutney may cook in less time because there is less tomato juice to reduce.

Makes about 3 cups