Can you believe that tomatoes have only recently become popular? Pretty crazy, right? Who knew! Tomatoes were readily available in Victorian England, but thought to be somewhat poisonous unless they had been well-boiled. Why's that, you ask? Well, back in the 1500's, the rich had pewter plates which had a high-lead content. And tomatoes, which are high in acid, would cause the lead to leech out onto the food, resulting in lead poisoning. Yikes!
But, on the brighter side, the poor had it all figured out by eating their good old tomatoes on a simple wooden plate. No problems there, I say! So, it appears that tomatoes were eaten mostly by poor until the 1800's. I seriously could go on and on about history – I just find it fascinating how things change through time. Each part of the world has it's own tomato history. Nevertheless, you may wonder what changed in the 1800's? Well, we can thank the mass immigration from Europe to America and the blending of cultures, for one. Many Italians ate tomatoes and brought tomatoes to America.
Now Chutneys, on the other hand, were shipped from India to European countries in the beginning of the 17th century. There they would use vinegar and sugar as the main ingredients for Chutney and taste sweeter. There are so many different Chutneys available in India. Tomato chutney is quite popular there, but every region has its own variation. I hear Sikkim, an Indian state located in the Himalayan mountains, is famous for its hot tomato Chutney.
This simple tomato chutney goes super well on a cracker with some goat cheese, toast with avocado or even on a hamburger. And it's a great way of preserving those summer tomatoes. Sometimes I like to add a pinch of red pepper flakes to my chutney. A little heat won't hurt!
Tomato Chili Chutney
1 small small red onion, finely sliced
1lb vine ripened tomatoes, roughly chopped
1-2 red chilies, deseeded, sliced
1 tbsp red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
1 tsp salt and pepper
3 tsp brown sugar
make it :
Saute onions till soft, then add tomatoes and chilies, vinegar, sugar and season. Simmer the mixture for about 30-40 minutes or until it becomes jammy. Cool mixture and then transfer into a glass jar. The chutney will keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.