This chutney is a winner. I’ll tell you why.

When I had just started working and moved to Pune and had to stay away from home, I awoke to the necessity of cooking my own meals. Since I had stubbornly resisted entering the kitchen except to open the fridge before that, all my instruction in the culinary arts happened over the telephone. I’d call my mom and she’d walk me through the process of preparing each meal. Most of the dishes I’d venture out to make would be the simplistic ones because even those would seem like an herculean task then. But that did not, of course mean that I didn’t want to eat tasty things. It is on one of those phone calls when I was whining to Mom that I missed all the chutneys and salads she made (roti and sabzi was all I could manage by then), that she let me in on this genius of a recipe. I had never known in all those years of eating it, that it was such a simple recipe. Over the years, it has become my go-to tomato chutney.

Cut to 2010. I was newly married, staying with my Ma-and-Pa-in-law. It was a Sunday evening, and 3 Idiots was premiering on TV. Everyone was in the mood for a really light dinner of dalia (a preparation of cracked wheat). Being the only one who had watched the movie earlier, I volunteered to get dinner ready. As I started cooking the dalia, I felt it really needed this zingy tomato chutney on the side and I quickly whipped it up. Now, my dislike for cooking was a well known and much advertised fact then, and it must have been with some trepidation that Ma must have agreed to let me manage dinner all alone and unsupervised. Luckily, she enjoyed the movie so much that she probably forgot to check on me, and the chutney was a surprise. Suffice it to say then, that her evening off, my dalia and the bonus chutney earned me lots of brownie points. So all you girls whose mothers-in-law know cooking’s not really your favourite thing in the world, but are in need of being impressed and buttered up, go for it. It’s a low-risk, high-return strategy! And for the guys, the returns are even higher.

The genius lies in the fact that such a tiny list of ingredients can produce so complex a flavour. It is very versatile and goes with anything at all, from dalia to Upama to Utthapams to Moong Chilas and adds zing to any meal.

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Prep Time : 20 mins
Serves : 10-12 chutney sized servings


4 medium sized ripe Tomatoes
1 tbsp Oil
4-5 Green Chillies, or to taste
1 tsp Mustard seeds / Raii
1 tsp Fenugreek / Methi seeds
1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
8-10 Curry Leaves
A pinch of Sugar
Salt to taste


  1. Dice the tomatoes into largish pieces. Chop the chillies into half inch pieces.
  2. Heat oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, turmeric, curry leaves and green chillies.
  3. When the mustard seeds crackle, add the diced tomato, mix well and cover.
  4. After about 5 minutes, add salt as per your taste and just a pinch of sugar. Mix and cover again. Let it simmer for 10-15 minutes, occasionally stirring to make sure the chutney is not sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  5. The chutney is done when the tomato pieces have lost definition and gone mushy. Cool to room temperature before serving.


The secret behind this chutney is using good quality tomatoes, which are squishy ripe and full of flavour since there are very few spices to support the tomatoes.

This is not a sweet tomato chutney, so add just a pinch of sugar. That will bring out the flavours of the other spices beautifully.

Chutney keeps well for up to a week when refrigerated in an air tight container.