Spicy Indian Tomato Chutney

I know: I’m all down with the late-season tomato recipes this year, right? Actually, I made this one a few weeks ago, with the very last of my bushel of tomatoes from Fishkill Farms (and a couple of pounds very kindly gifted to us from Tai’s boss‘ garden), but I wanted to let it sit on the shelf for a while before I cracked a jar and tasted it. And my, does it smell amazing when you pop open that jar: the fennel, the mustard, the cumin; they smack you in the face, in a good way, and you start salivating before you even take a bite.

This is a sweet chutney (a little too sweet for my tastes, honestly; next time I will probably reduce the sugar a bit), so the comparison to ketchup is natural. In fact, I can see it taking the place of ketchup on a burger, or fries, but to me it’s much more: delicious with a sharp farmstead cheese and crusty sourdough bread, I could also see it dolloped with goat cheese in a vegetable tart, or swirled into tomato soup, beans or vegetable stew for a sweet-spicy kick.

The pan-roast of the whole spices in olive oil smells so incredible that I want to find ways to use this spice mix in other recipes; or, if I had the freezer space, I would freeze a bunch of tomatoes now and make small batches of this chutney all winter long, simply so I can smell it simmering on the stove all day long. Or, you know: I could just pop open another jar.

Inspired by Spicy Tomato Chutney at Becks & Posh

Spicy Indian Tomato Chutney


  • 5 lbs tomatoes, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced (about 1 ½ cups)
  • 3 small orange sweet peppers, diced (about ½ cup)
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • about 12 tiny dried red chilis (pequins), stemmed and chopped
  • ½ – 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 ½ cups raw sugar (organic turbinado), or less: see Options below


  1. Quarter the first 4 lbs of tomatoes into a large, heavy stockpot or Dutch oven, crushing lightly to reduce juices. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until tomatoes are very soft and breaking down, about 30 – 45 minutes. Run softened tomatoes through a food mill (medium disk) to remove skins, some seeds and cores. Alternatively, core, peel and chop tomatoes by hand, purée, and proceed with the next step.
  2. Return tomato purée to the pot. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until volume is reduced by about half (or purée achieves the consistency of a thin tomato sauce), anywhere from 1 – 4 hours. Core and chop remaining 1 lb tomatoes (no need to peel); add to pot with onion, peppers and vinegar.
  3. Prepare canner, jars and lids.
  4. In a large skillet, heat olive oil until shimmering; add mustard, fennel, cumin, dried chiles and cayenne pepper. Mix well; cook, stirring frequently, over medium-high heat until fragrant and cumin seeds are popping. Allow to cool slightly, then carefully add hot oil + spices to the tomato mixture (tomatoes will bubble & spit). Add sugar. Stir to mix and continue to simmer chutney over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches the desired consistency (about the texture of a cooked restaurant salsa). Taste, and adjust flavorings as necessary, remembering that the chutney will age & mellow on the shelf.
  5. Fill hot jars to ½-inch head space. Bubble jars, wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Yields about 4 ½ cups of a thick chutney. Recipe can easily be doubled if you have a large (8+ quart), wide pot.


  1. The savvy canner may notice that while I reduced the amount of olive oil (from 8 to 2 tbsp) in the original recipe, I also reduced the vinegar and added in non-acidic onion & peppers, usually a canning safety no-no. I wasn’t able to find a published tomato chutney recipe with my ingredient proportions, but there are plenty of salsa recipes (including this one) that convince me that this ratio of acidic to non-acidic ingredients is perfectly safe. In addition, I measured the pH of the final product, once when going into jars, and again after a 3-week rest on the shelf: pH = 4.0 each time.
  2. Although this is meant to be a sweet chutney, I found it a bit too sweet: next time I would reduce the sugar, maybe starting with ½ cup and going up from there. The sweetness of tomatoes varies wildly with variety, weather, growing season, etc.: the best thing to do is taste and adjust.
  3. I used ½ tsp cayenne pepper but think it could use more kick: I would increase it to 1 tsp next time.
  4. I used all red tomatoes in this version, some paste and some beefsteak varieties, but I think that this recipe is made for a variety of gorgeous garden tomatoes, especially as you include the skins of the last 1 pound. Yellow, purple, brown, even cherry tomatoes would work well here.
  5. There’s something soothing and lovely about toasting whole spices in oil: they really transform. I think this would be a great mid-winter project on a snowy afternoon, with some of the last-of-the-garden tomatoes that you stuck in the back of the freezer, or even a jar or two of crushed tomatoes that need using up. You can easily halve the recipe and stick a pint jar of chutney in the fridge, no muss, no fuss.


Canned, store in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year.


Summer. Or year-round if you want to start with canned or frozen tomatoes.


  1. you’re talking my language miss K! I have a bunch of frozen tomatoes in my freezer, I may take you up on on that notion – roasting spices in the winter sounds perfect!

  2. I have a bowl of tomatoes that I picked green and they have been slowly turning red. I think they might want to be this chutney. I am loving spicy tomato goodness these days! Hope you are ready for the big chill this weekend…Brrr!

  3. Pingback: Spicy End of Summer Tomato Chutney | James's Recipes

  4. Starla

    Fill hot jars to 1/2-inch head space. Bubble jars, wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. I am not sure what you mean by “BUBBLE JARS”, is it some kind of a process, please explain?

  5. Pingback: September? | alyssaskitchen.blogspot.com

  6. Ana

    Oooooh! I grew up with a fresh version of this! So when I came across it here, I had to try it. Made a tiny batch — half the recipe — and it is amazing!! I used coriander seeds rather than fennel because I prefer the taste, added a tbsp of minced ginger and the same of garlic and subbed in a sliced jalapeno for the cayenne. I figured I should increase the vinegar to offset the added pepper/ginger/garlic so upped that to 1.25 cups. I ended up with 7 little (250ml) jars and just enough over for a dip for grilled cheese sandwiches. Like I said, a-mazing!

  7. Liz

    I am processing a batch of this right now. Mine wasn’t coming out with the rich tomato taste I had envisioned, so I added salt, which brought out more of the tomato flavor rather than the vinegar and sugar I was tasting, and also added about 1/3 of a cup of tomato paste. Will that throw off the ph by too much?

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