Thursday, July 18, 2013

Fiery & tangy Sun dried tomato chutney - A favorite from my Telugu side of the family

After eating delicious slices of the lemony, chiffon cake, we were craving for something hot & spicy. As the Sun shone happily on the horizon and my sandiges were well on their way to their dry state, my attention drifted to the succulent tomatoes in the big box from Costco. If you have been to this warehouse anywhere in the US of A, you know everything comes in one size only - Huge, from kids' diapers to dog food, from milk gallons to egg cartons, from TVs to potting soil - there is no other measure here. Yes, we(read that as half 'we') are huge fans of Costco and especially since it is on the way home from work, stopping there is no inconvenience at all :-). Although he promptly calls to ask if I have a list to purchase from when he stops at Costco, the goods that reach home later in the evening are much more than what was read out from the list and we end up with lot more tomatoes, avacados, cucumbers and the likes quite often. So I had all the justification I needed with the extra tomatoes as I plunged into yet another sunny day activity.

I had infact planned to post this recipe a while ago, a long while ago or to be precise last Summer when Amma was here. We started making it and then the Sun moved North East leaving us in NorthWest completely desolate. Some quick thinking and an oven dried effort later, we ended up with the tomato pachadi but I decided to take a rain check on the blog post until I could actually Sun dry them and give you an authentic way of making this. A year long wait, I would say totally worth it. Make this succulent, tongue pleasing pachadi during the hot Summer months and enjoy a teeny spoonful during breakfast, lunch or dinner.

There are several different ways of making a Tomato pachadi or chutney. In Telugu there is a definite word to describe the pachadis with long shelf life - these are called 'niluvu' pachadis referring to their longer shelf life. Many of the pickles also get grouped under 'niluvu' pachadis for the same reason. Then there are pachadis made to be consumed in a day or two. The Sun dried tomato pachadi according to me is one of the best niluva pachadis. If I had year round Sun like it happens in Andhra Pradesh, I would have made this pachadi over and over again through out the year. Something special gets injected in to those juicy tomatoes as you let them dry and turn crisp under the flaming Sun. If you have never tasted this, go ahead and make friends with your neighbors from AP and squeeze your way into their pantry where they store all the precious 'imported from India' pickles, pachadis and papads :-). A little bit of this fiery pachadi with a bowl of cool mosaranna (yogurt rice) cleanses your palate like nothing else can.

When we made this half successful attempt last Summer, amma showed me the ingredients and the process. I even had a few pictures taken and went on to make the Sun dried tomato pachadi this time and it was definitely a super successful effort. This pachadi making takes a few days, a bright, non cloudy weather and patience. Go grab some of those juicy summer tomatoes and let us get going on making the pachadi, shall we?

What do you need to make Sun dried tomato pachadi? 
12 large juicy tomatoes about 2.5 Lbs - I used ripe beefsteak variety
1 golf ball sized piece of tamarind
2 Tblsp fenugreek seeds
1.5 Tblsp mustard seeds
1/2 Tsp Asafoetida
12-14 dry red chilies (adjust to your spice tolerance)
1 Tblsp salt (adjust to taste)
3 Tblsp oil

How do you make Sun dried tomato pachadi? 
Day 1(evening):
  • Wash and pat dry tomatoes to remove all traces of water. Cut them into half and cut each half into 6 pieces (My tomatoes are big, the thumb rule is to cut them into bite size pieces so they dry out well). 
  • Put the pieces in a clean, dry vessel, add 1/2 Tblsp salt and mix them well squeezing the pieces in between your fist as you do it. The idea is to get the tomato juices flowing. 
  • Cover, set aside over night in a cool, dry place on your kitchen counter. 

Day 2(morning): 
  • Take handfuls of tomato pieces at a time and squeeze the juice into the vessel, separating the pieces. 
  • Spread the tomato pieces on a clean dry plate or cookie sheet in a single layer. 
  • Tear the tamarind roughly and add it to the vessel with the tomato juice and press it into the juice for it to soak. 
  • Pour the tomato juice into a shallow (low height) vessel.
  • Carry both the tomato pieces and the juice outside and keep them under direct Sun light.
  • Bring them back inside once the Sun sets or clouds move in as it happened in my case :-)

Day 3(morning):
  • Carry both the tomato pieces and the juice outside and keep them under direct Sun light.
  • Repeat this process for another 2 days until the tomato pieces become dry and crispy and the juice thickens and reduces in volume. 
  • It took me 5 full days at 80F outside temperature to dry the tomatoes. 

Day 6: (If you have planned this well, you would be on a weekend and have time in the morning :-))
  • Heat a heavy bottom pan on medium heat, add the fenugreek seeds and roast them frequently stirring until the seeds turn a good shade of brown, splutter and give out a wonderful aroma (takes about 10-12 minutes, do this on medium heat and not burn any of the seeds)
  • Take the fenugreek seeds aside. 
  • Add mustard into the same hot pan and roast them until the seeds pop. Keep it aside with fenugreek. 
  • Add 2 drops of oil into the pan, add the dry red chilies and fry them for a minute or two to get them crispy. Keep aside to cool. 
  • Once cool, take all three ingredients to a spice grinder and make a fine powder (start with the seeds first and then add red chilies in batches depending on the size of your grinder).
  • Keep the powder covered. 
  • Pick the tamarind pieces from the tomato juice, squeeze them to get any juice and discard the pulp, seeds and pith. 
  • Put the dry tomato pieces in the blender and adding the concentrated tomato juice as needed, blend it into a coarse paste. 
  • Take the tomato paste into a wide bowl or plate, add the ground powder, salt and mix well until it is incorporated well. 
  • Heat a pan on medium heat, add the oil. Once the oil is hot add Asafoetida, let it sizzle, add the prepared tomato paste into this hot oil, mix it in to coat oil all over, switch off, cover and let it stand. 
  • The asafoetida flavor gets infused into the pachadi. 
  • Enjoy with yogurt rice, dal rice or use it as a spread on your roti. It just brings a Summery brightness into your food. 
  • After it comes to room temperature, store in a dry container with lid. It stays well for a couple of months if refrigerated.

  • If you are a garlic lover, skip the asafoetida, add 4-5 cloves of garlic to the hot oil and continue with the rest of the process for a garlicky pachadi. 
  • Grind the tomatoes coarsely so you can feel the texture while eating.
  • This pachadi is spicy and used in small quantities.
  • Since all tomatoes are born different, I suggest a few pointers to get the pachadi to your taste - taste a couple of dried tomato pieces to estimate the saltiness, taste a few drops of the concentrated juice to estimate the sourness in it before you use it all up for grinding. 
  • This pachadi is almost like a pickle, so it is important to make sure the containers and spoons are clean and dry. 
  • If you are really craving for this pachadi, craving so much you are willing to compromise some, go ahead and use the store bought Sun dried tomatoes. This definitely serves as an easy, quick alternative to the laborious process of Sun drying. Personally, I thought the oven baked tomatoes were no where closer to this taste - it is like making baingan bhurta from a steam cooked eggplant :-(


Kaveri Venkatesh said...

This is one of my favorites, though I have never tried making it myself..even now, before coming to Amsterdam, I got some packed from my grandmother

sangeetha pn said...

yummy tangy chutney!
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NamsVeni Pothas said...

with a hard effort this Nilava Pachchadies are very tasty and mouth watering. with curd rice and even dosas idlies wonderful.

Swathi iyer said...

Delicious chutney with sundried tomato.

Chitz said...

I love these.. And also love the way u make these things at home !! Awesome dear :)