Indian cuisine has become my new comfort food. This past summer, it was all about chicken tikka and tandoori on the grill with seared onions, fresh tomato chutney or apple raita on the side. Now, with the weather cooling off, it's almost time for curries. This week, it was warm enough to fire up the grill one more time. I grilled chicken marinated in yogurt and Indian spices to go with a pot of tumeric rice with toasted almonds and this Warm Fire-Roasted Tomato Chutney.
The chutney goes together quickly, but uses several ingredients that are not standard pantry items. The fire-roasted tomatoes are key. They add a lovely smoky char to the dish so don't be tempted to substitute regular diced tomatoes. If you do much Indian cooking, you may have cumin and brown mustard seed in your spice cabinet, but fenugreek seed and asafoetida are a little harder to find and often not included in Americanized Indian recipes. Fenugreek seed is a spice used in curries and pickles. Fenugreek is also sold as an herbal supplement. It has long been used in ayervuda (traditional Indian medicine). Fenugreek reportedly has all kinds of health benefits including increasing milk production in breast-feeding mothers, relieving the symptoms of arthritis, lowering blood sugar in diabetics and firing up the male libido. Asafoetida is an herb native to India. An alternative spelling is asafetida, with the emphasis on fetid. It is quite stinky when raw, but adds a savory smoothness to dishes when cooked. Ironically, one of its health benefits is that it reduces flatulence. I've found both spices at better groceries like Whole Foods, Earth Fare and Fresh Market.
Warm Fire-Roasted Tomato Chutney
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek seed
- 2 tablespoons minced shallot
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 2 teaspoons mined jalapeno
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 14-ounce can chopped fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon malt vinegar
- pinch of asafoetida
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat.
- When the oil is hot (shimmering but not smoking), add the cumin and brown mustard. The oil should be hot enough that the seeds crackle and pop, but not so hot that they come flying out of the skillet. Fry the seeds for about a minute.
- Turn the heat down to medium. Add the fenugreek, shallot, ginger, jalapeno and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Turn the heat down to medium low. Stir in the tomatoes, malt vinegar, aestifada and salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes,.
- Stir in the cilantro and cook for about another minute.
Yield: 4 side servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes