Have you ever noticed that the right condiment or sauce can transform an average dish into a great dish? That’s the case with this tomato chutney. The concept of chutney, similar to relish and savory jam, derives from India, where chutneys are made of fruit, spices, and vinegar for preservation.
They can be either sweet or hot but are almost always savory. This tomato chutney leans toward the sweet side, while the ginger provides just a faint sense of spice. Use this recipe as a guide, then try increasing the amount of ginger or adding a little heat with hot sauce, cayenne, or chili powder. I like the earthiness of the basil when added in just towards the end of simmering. Basil and tomatoes embody the taste of summer for me.
What does one do with chutney? You can serve it as they do in India – with curry – or with cheese and crackers, spoon some over a piece of meat, use it in place of ketchup, or mix into cream cheese, mayo, or yogurt to create a spread. I served this chutney with zucchini chard pancakes, and it provided some of the expected sweetness you’d often receive from maple syrup. Without it, the pancakes would be pretty average and incomplete. Together, they hit on all the right notes.
Wash, slice, and destem your tomatoes. I used cherry, but any kind will do. Cherries are just slightly less work, I think, as you can just slice them in half. We’re leaving on the skins and seeds here for texture.
In a pot, combine the tomatoes with the onion and garlic. Let this cook down, about 8 minutes. Then add in the flavorings – the salt, ginger, brown sugar, and balsamic vinegar. Continue simmering over low heat until everything has broken down and started to form a sauce. If you find you have too much liquid, continue simmering another few minutes. Stir in the basil right towards the end of cooking, then adjust the seasoning as you like and serve either warm or at room temp.