Whether it's birthdays, festivals, potlucks or religious functions, no Bengali spread is ever complete without this incredibly flavorful chutney.
This recipe was handed down to me by my mother-in-law and if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know I tend to brag about her incredible cooking skills. I love that she is so dedicated with tried and true traditional methods of cooking and with every incredible bite you know that it comes from a hand that has been doing this for so very long in honor of time honored culinary traditions.
Like so many traditional cuisines of India, Bengali cuisine is over a 1000 years old which is mind boggling when you think about how many generations have passed down these recipes from mother to daughter or mother to son and if you're lucky, like me, mother-in-law to daughter-in-law.
This chutney, redolent with the scent of spices, is laden with fresh tomatoes, succulent dates, plum raisins, jaggery or brown sugar and roasted ground cumin.
Eaten as the final transition between savory and dessert, it's a hot-spicy-sweet palate cleanser that as far as culinary transitions go, is top-notch.
TAMATAR KHEJOOR CHUTNEY ~ Tomato & Date Chutney
1 lb ripe tomatoes
5-6 Mejdool dates
2 dried Kashmiri red chilli
3/4 tsp mustard seeds or panch phoron (Bengali five spice-blend)
2 tsp grated ginger
3 tbs vegetable oil
½ cup + 2 tbs brown sugar (more if desired)
2 tbs raisins
3/4 tsp roasted ground cumin
1 tsp salt
Tomatoes: Discard the woody tops and rinse. Roughly dice and set aside.
Dates: Pitt & quarter the dates and set aside.
Add oil to heavy bottomed sauce pan and heat the oil until hot. Add the mustard seeds and red chilies. As soon as the seeds splatter, add the diced tomatoes and cook with closed lid on medium-low heat until the tomatoes have softened – approximately 10 minutes.
Add salt, brown sugar, ginger and dates, ground cumin and sauté on medium-high heat for another 5 minutes with the pan uncovered till the chutney is thick and everything blends together.
Remove the lid, taste and adjust seasonings – the chutney should taste spicy-sweet.
Serve at room temperature or chilled but never hot.
Will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.