This basic onion tomato chutney is frugal, fresh, and packed with sweet, spicy (optional), tangy flavor with only 7 ingredients and in under an hour! Perfect for serving with snacks, burgers, sandwiches, pasta, and more!
When it comes to chutneys, relishes, and similar condiments, the flavor variations are practically endless. However, for those on a budget/ living frugally, it's fantastic to know that you can enjoy a flavor-packed tomato chutney from scratch without needing half your local grocery store's spice aisle.
In fact, this onion tomato chutney recipe requires just a handful of ingredients (perfect for using up a glut of homegrown tomatoes!) and a wonderfully sweet, spicy, tangy flavor that you'll want to use with everything.
We use the terms tomato chutney and tomato relish interchangeably within this post. However, when trying to research the difference between the two, they're actually very similar products and, in fact, chutney is technically a type of relish. Both seem to contain either fruits or vegetables (or a combination of the two), combined with an acid, often sugar, and then optionally flavored with herbs, chili, and spices.
Tomato chutney is traditionally a classic Indian condiment made with tomatoes, ginger, chili, sugar, salt, and raisins/dates and served with dosa, idli, pakora, and other Indian dishes. However, this version was actually inspired by a friend's trip to South Africa, where this tomato chutney is a popular Braai (BBQ) relish.
If anything, this sweet tomato relish/ chutney is a bit like grown-up ketchup with (optional) spice. And luckily, even for those eating a plant-based diet, there are plenty of ways to enjoy this versatile condiment.
Best of all, though, it's surprisingly simple to make! You basically just throw all the ingredients into a heavy-based pan and simmer until it thickens into a jammy consistency.
This tomato chutney recipe is super basic and requires just 7 ingredients, including:
As we've said previously, there's certainly no lack of options when it comes to flavoring this sweet and spicy tomato chutney. Here are just a few simple mix-ins you could experiment with.
If you add any of the whole spices, we recommend 'blooming'/tempering them in oil first for extra flavor. Heat the oil in a pan and add all the spices, allowing them to sizzle and cook until fragrant. Then add the tomatoes, etc.
It's reached the right consistency when it clings to the back of a spoon, and/or it leaves a clear trail when running a spoon along the bottom of the pan.
Though it's possible to enjoy the chutney/relish immediately, for the best flavor, we recommend allowing it to rest in your refrigerator for at least a few days to allow the flavor to meld and mature.
While many chutneys and relishes are canned for long-term pantry storage, this recipe wasn't designed with that in mind. For that reason, we recommend storing this sweet and spicy tomato chutney in a sterilized jar in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.
If you pour the sweet tomato chutney into the sterilized jar while it's still hot (both the chutney and the jar) and seal it tightly, then flip it upside down, the lid should naturally vacuum seal (and make a 'pop' noise, if you're using a button lid). This will help extend the shelf life.
It may surpass that amount by a long shot, but our jar is always empty when we hit the 3-week marker.
You can also freeze it. Leave about ½-inch of headspace in your jar and freeze it for 4-6 months. Allow it to thaw in the refrigerator before using.
There are several ways you can enjoy this simple sweet tomato chutney. Our top picks are:
This spicy-sweet tomato relish also pairs with several Indian dishes like idli, dosa, pakora, parathas, and more (but usually best with less sugar)! Plus, it makes for a great gifting option during the holidays and for any foodie (especially when paired with some crackers!).
While it is possible, this recipe wasn't designed with that in mind. If you want to water bath can the tomato chutney, we recommend referring to the NCHFP guidelines.
While you don't have to (the chutney will still last 5-7 days), it will help to extend the shelf life of the sweet tomato chutney. To sterilize the jar/s, simply wash them with hot, soapy water and then rinse well. Then transfer to a preheated oven (minus any plastic, rubber, metal bits) at 160C/320F for 10-15 minutes, or until completely dry.
They are actually very similar in method (with chutney/relish actually being EASIER to make) but largely differ in the ingredients used. Jam is typically sweet made from fruit. In comparison, chutney combines sweet fruit and sweeteners with tangy/savory elements like vinegar, chili, etc.
Not unless you'd prefer to. We don't find them very noticeable (especially when using a food processor to chop the tomatoes). However, if you'd prefer to do so, cut a cross on the bottom of each tomato and blanch them in boiling water for a minute. Then, transfer to an ice bath but, while they're still warm, you should be able to peel all the skins off easily, chop, and continue with the recipe.
Photos by Alfonso Revilla
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