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. http://www.abrowntable.com/2013/07/spicy-heirloom-tomato-relish-and.html —Nik Sharma
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.
In a coffee bean grinder, grind the chili flakes, fennel, coriander, and cumin to get a coarse powder.
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.
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.
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)
Nik Sharma is the writer, photographer, and recipe developer behind A Brown Table, an award-winning blog that has garnered best-ofs from Saveur, Better Homes & Gardens, and the International Association of Culinary Professions. His weekly column, A Brown Kitchen, appears in the San Francisco Chronicle and has written for Saveur, Taste, Food52, Eater, among others. His first cookbook, Season: Big Flavors, Beautiful Food was released on October 2018. He was also featured in America, the Great Cookbook. Nik lives in Oakland, California.