Spicy heirloom tomato relish

August  8, 2013
0 Ratings
  • Makes 2 quarts
Author Notes

This is an Indian-inspired tomato relish or pickle, that is very different from pickles in the West. The amount of oil used here might appear huge but traditionally, Indian pickles use a large quantity of oil to aid in the food preservation process and concentrate the flavors. You need enough oil to cover the tomatoes in the jar. However when serving the relish, you can drain some of the oil out.
This recipe first appeared on my blog A Brown Table on July 17, 2013. —Nik Sharma

What You'll Need
  • 10 pounds heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable oil/peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried red chili flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds, ground
  • 1 cup red onions, finely chopped
  • 3 thai, red chili peppers
  • 1.5 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
  1. Wash and wipe the tomatoes dry, remove the stalks if any and dice the tomatoes into large chunks. Discard any seeds. Keep the tomatoes aside.
  2. In a coffee bean grinder, grind the chili flakes, fennel, coriander, and cumin to get a coarse powder.
  3. Heat the oil on a medium high flame in a large thick bottomed saucepan. As soon as the oil begins to smoke, add the ground spices and turmeric. Stir for 15 seconds and reduce the flame to a gentle simmer. If the spices begin to burn, discard the oil and begin again.
  4. Stir in the onions and cook for another 5 minutes. Trim the stalks off the chilies and slit them across their length. Add the chilies to the saucepan and cook for another 2 minutes with constant stirring.
  5. Add the tomatoes to the saucepan and increase the flame to a high. Add the vinegar and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce the flame to a medium high. Stir constantly to avoid any burning. Continue to cook the mixture until most of the liquid has evaporated and the oil begins to separate from the tomatoes. The mixture should turn into a thick paste. Taste and adjust the salt as necessary (I have listed one teaspoon but you can add less or more depending on your preference. You can also add a little vinegar to it, if you want to make it more sour). Remove the saucepan from the stove and transfer into 4 clean and sterile 500ml canning jars. Process the sealed canning jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Let the jars cool for another 5 mins in the water bath, remove carefully and store in a cool dry place. (Canning conditions will vary by the altitude of your location and the type of jar you decide to use)

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  • Eleana
  • Nik Sharma
    Nik Sharma
Nik Sharma is a molecular biologist turned cookbook author and food photographer who writes a monthly column for Serious Eats and the San Francisco Chronicle and is a contributor to the New York Times. His first cookbook, Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food, was a finalist for a James Beard Foundation award and an International Association of Culinary Professionals award. Nik resides in Los Angeles, California and writes the award-winning blog, A Brown Table. Nik's new book, The Flavor Equation will be released in October 2020.

2 Reviews

Eleana August 9, 2013
This looks amazing but I do have one question. What does process for 15 minutes mean?
Nik S. August 9, 2013
Hi Eleana,
I updated the recipe for the "Process" portion. Sorry about the confusion, I normally process my jars in a water bath for canning. I fill my water bath up to one inch above the height of the sealed jars. I bring the water to a rolling boil and then count 15 minutes before I switch the stove off. I let the jars cool for another 5 minutes in the water bath before I remove them out to cool and seal. The exact time for processing for canning varies by the altitude of your location. It also varies by the type of food being processed. This link might help you with times and altitude for your area. I hope this helps.