The best thing you can do with a cherry tomato is not just pop it in your mouth—but is nearly as fast. You’ll find it in the cookbook Indian-ish by Priya Krishna and her mom Ritu: a five-minute, spicy-bright pickle that will electrify everything from dal to quesadillas.
As Priya writes in Indian-ish, “Making achar, or pickle, is a long-standing Indian tradition. At the start of summer, my great-aunt will combine oil, vegetables, and a bunch of spices in a few jars, then set them out to marinate into a bright, spicy concoction during the warm months. This is my mom’s shortcut pickle, which can function either as a condiment for rice and dal, or on its own as a tomato salad with a very big personality. It is the sweeter, cherry tomato version of an achar that’s normally made with a sour tropical berry called karonda. Also, the specific combo of spices in here is called panch phoran, which literally translates to 'five spices' and can be used in so many ways, from fish stew to dal. Other reasons to make this dish: (1) It comes together in less than five minutes, (2) it highlights the delightful flavor of good cherry tomatoes, and (3) it has the absolute BEST texture with all those crunchy seeds. Unlike most achars, this one will not last in your fridge forever. Best to finish it off while it’s fresh. And don’t be afraid to eat the whole chiles—they get milder when they’re cooked down.”
A few tips: If you’re missing any of the spices, you can order them individually or in a panch phoran blend (just be sure to get whole seeds, not ground, for the best flavor and crunch) at places like Kalustyan’s and Spicewalla. In Indian-ish, Priya suggests using panch phoran in all sorts of other dishes, like fish stew and dal, or you can try searching Food52 for “panch phoran” to get more recipes from the community. Seek out the asafetida, too, if you don't have it—there’s nothing else like it.
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Watch This Recipe
Green Chile & Cherry Tomato Pickle From Priya & Ritu Krishna
black mustard seeds
asafetida (optional, but really great)
long Indian green chiles or serrano chiles, halved lengthwise (no need to remove the stems)
cherry tomatoes, halved
freshly squeezed lime juice (from about half a lime)
In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Once the oil begins to shimmer, toss in the fennel seeds, nigella seeds, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds, and fenugreek seeds. Cook until the spices look slightly browned and start to sputter (watch the cumin—that’s the best indicator), about 1 minute max. Stir the asafetida (if using) and then add the chiles. Cook for 2 minutes, until the chiles brown and crisp on the sides.
Turn off the heat, mix in the tomatoes, and immediately transfer to a serving bowl so that the tomatoes stop cooking. Gently mix in the salt and lime juice. Serve warm or at room temperature. This will keep, covered in the fridge, for a few days, but it’s best polished off day-of.