Make Ahead

Tomato Relish with Smoked Jalapeño and Arbol Chile

July 28, 2011
1 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Makes 1 1/2 cup
Author Notes

In the true spirit of "nothing ever should go to waste," my thrifty grandmother would buy up the less-than-perfect "yesterday" tomatoes from the vendor, striking up a good bargain. Invariably, this haggling session would be followed by the heavenly aroma of tomato chutney brewing from the kitchen in the afternoon. The tartness of the tomatoes is complemented well by the smokiness of the toasted arbol chiles. In addition to the dried arbol chiles, my variation includes roasted jalapeños in the mix for an extra kick. I pair this with anything from toast to plain rice. Although this would work with a can of crushed tomatoes, nothing compares to making this with ripe heirloom tomatoes fresh from Hillsboro farm around the corner from home. —Panfusine

Test Kitchen Notes

Finger licking good! I prepared this relish exactly as described in PanFusine's recipe with two changes: I only used 2 jalapeños and I added an extra teaspoon of brown sugar. As PanFusine says, the intensity of the chili mellows out overnight. This morning, I smothered my toast with this relish before stacking some scrambled eggs on top and then smiled. This would be great with everything from grilled shrimp to fried eggs to steamed rice. Two spoons up! —Pam p

What You'll Need
  • 3 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes
  • 4 jalapeño peppers
  • 4 dried arbol chiles
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves (20 to 24 leaves)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • Kosher salt, to taste (about a tablespoon)
  1. Set a large pot of water to boil. When it comes to a rolling boil, add the tomatoes, allowing the skin to split. Remove the fruits carefully using tongs, and let them cool enough to peel the skins off. Remove and discard the top scar from the tomatoes. Set aside.
  2. In a skillet, toast the arbol chiles until they just begin to brown, then set aside. Add the fenugreek to the same skillet and allow to toast to a reddish color. Lower the heat and add the curry leaves. These should curl up and dehydrate without browning. Set aside to cool. When cool, combine the fenugreek, curry leaves and the arbol chilies, and grind to a fine powder. Set aside.
  3. Roast the jalapeño over the stovetop until the skin blisters. Drop into a paper bag (ensuring that there are no smoldering ends!) to cool, and rub off the blistered skin. Deseed, chop, and add to the blanched tomatoes. Blend the two into a purée in a food processor.
  4. Heat the oil in a skillet. When smoking hot, add the mustard seeds to sputter. Carefully pour the jalapeño-tomato purée and stir in the asafoetida, salt, and turmeric. Boil off the liquid from the paste until the oil starts oozing from the mixture. (the consistency will be that of a thick paste). Add the sugar and the arbol chili spice blend (adjust to your taste and heat tolerance) and mix to combine.
  5. Cool and store in clean glass jars in the refrigerator. The heat from the chili peppers tends to mellow overnight. Given the variations in jalapeño heat, I'd advise starting with two green chilis and adding more half way through the cooking process if you prefer.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Mari Yomota
    Mari Yomota
  • Vivian Henoch
    Vivian Henoch
  • aargersi
  • EmilyC
  • sexyLAMBCHOPx
A biomedical engineer/ neuroscientist by training, currently a mommy blogger on a quest for all things food - Indian Palate, Global perspective!

14 Reviews

Summer +. August 17, 2018
This is my third year making this, I use the “imperfect” tomatoes you can get a great deal on at the farmers market. My family requests it every summer! Thank you for sharing.
Sarah August 9, 2017
How long will this last?
Mari Y. September 8, 2013
I canned some tomatoes yesterday and still had some more sitting around and was just thinking what to do with them. So I just made this relish. Absolutely tasty! I can hardly wait to have this on a piece of toast with some eggs tomorrow morning. Thanks for sharing the great recipe.
Panfusine September 8, 2013
Aww, thanks so much Mari!
Pam P. August 16, 2013
Yum! I can taste this in my head already. Got to try this out. It reminds me vaguely of something my foodie aunt used to make back in the day (to eat on Indian trains with idlis). She used to call it a "tomato gojju" :-) Thanks Panfusine...
Panfusine September 6, 2013
Thanks so much for the fabulous review Pam P.. Was traveling in India & had no idea the recipe was up for a community pick! So glad you enjoyed it!
Vivian H. August 9, 2013
Delish! Don't mind if I do.
aargersi July 29, 2011
Definitly making this! It looks amazing! I just need to find curry leaves, in their absence can I use curry powder to a similar affect?
Panfusine July 29, 2011
Omit curry leaves if you can't find them. the flavor profile will not change drastically if you do. Curry powder will kill the dish since its a complex spice blend by itself!
the closest alternative would be to dry up the stalks from cilantro @ 200 F in the oven, powder it & add to your taste.
aargersi July 29, 2011
OK ! Thanks! I am glad I asked :-)
EmilyC July 29, 2011
This looks absolutely wonderful! I'd love to have a jar of this in my fridge (and that jar is really cute)!
Panfusine July 29, 2011
Thanks EmilyC..the jars were washed & reused from an earlier batch of strawberry jam!
sexyLAMBCHOPx July 29, 2011
Lovely condiment with so many possibilities. I love the tomato base.
Panfusine July 29, 2011
Thanks... It was definitely worth using real tomatoes over the canned variety, the difference is taste is striking!