How to Use Tomato Achaar

August  4, 2014

All week long, we're highlighting some of our favorite New York-based makers, whose goods you can find in our I Heart NYC collection on Provisions. Follow along for a taste of New York -- without stepping foot on a subway. 

Today: Meet Chitra Agrawal of Brooklyn Delhi, a small-batch company specializing in handmade Indian condiments. Crafted from local produce with a kick of spice, their Tomato Achaar packs the same unique flavors found in homemade Indian tomato relishes. Here's a fun way to use it.

Tomato Achaar  Tomato Achaar

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Achaar -- often referred to as "Indian pickle" -- is a popular Indian condiment made from local fruits or vegetables, spices, chili, and oil. The flavor is spicy, sour, savory, and sweet -- think of it as the Indian equivalent of Sriracha, kimchi, or harissa. I grew up eating it mixed into rice and dal, in plain yogurt, or on sandwiches. It has so much flavor, you just need to add a bit to give your meal a pick-me-up.

More: You can -- and should -- eat savory, spiced yogurt for lunch. 

My favorite flavors of achaar to bring back from India are green mango, thin-skinned lemon, and gooseberry. When I realized I couldn't really find achaars with that homemade flavor available in stores in the U.S., I started making my own from local produce I received in my CSA. I experimented with rhubarb, American gooseberries, garlic, and heirloom tomatoes, and ended up serving up these achaars at my cooking classes and pop-up dinners. When my fiancé Ben saw how popular they were, he encouraged me to launch my own line and offered to design the labels (he's a food packaging designer). And so Brooklyn Delhi, my line of Indian condiments, was born! 

More: Take a page from Chitra's book and make your own condiments at home

I've made my achaar recipes more versatile in flavor than traditional ones -- which usually have more salt -- so that you can use them in a variety of ways. I like them on eggs, on a baguette with cheese, to flavor sautéed vegetables, on burgers and marinades, mixed into soups, and even in tarts. Here, I've adapted my friend Brigitte's recipe for her famous Tarte à la Tomate and made it spicy with the addition of my tomato achaar. 

Tomato Tart on Food52

Spicy Tomato Tart

Serves 4

For the tart dough:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1/3 cup ice water (you may need a little more if the air is really dry)

For the filling:

4 tomatoes, sliced
3 tablespoons Brooklyn Delhi Tomato Achaar
1 cup grated cheese (Emmental, Gruyère, Parmesan, or cheddar)
1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley or oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
Fleur de sel 

See the full recipe (and save it and print it) here.

Top photos by James Ransom; tart photo courtesy of Chitra Agrawal

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Specialize in Indian recipes using local ingredients. I'm the owner of Brooklyn Delhi and author of Vibrant India: Fresh Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Brooklyn (Penguin Random House).