Cooking for One

Green Chile & Cherry Tomato Pickle From Priya & Ritu Krishna

September  1, 2020
4 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham. Food Stylist: Samantha Seneviratne. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine.
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 5 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

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.

Recipe adapted very slightly from Indian-ish: Recipes and Antics from a Modern American Family (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, April 2019).

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What You'll Need
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Green Chile & Cherry Tomato Pickle From Priya & Ritu Krishna
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon nigella seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafetida (optional, but really great)
  • 4 long Indian green chiles or serrano chiles, halved lengthwise (no need to remove the stems)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice (from about half a lime)
  1. 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.
  2. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Megan
  • cookwhatyouhave
  • Kristen Miglore
    Kristen Miglore
  • Andrew H
    Andrew H
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Recipe by: Genius Recipes

10 Reviews

Andrew H. April 29, 2023
Haven't made this yet, but can you make this with other chillies, such as the padron variety? These are Spanish peppers that aren't that fiery. Thanks.
SJhapamama April 29, 2023
As long as you prepare the peppers per the instructions, you should get a tasty result. I like your idea (then my husband, whose fire tolerance is less than it used to be, would be able to eat the peppers as well as the tomatoes)!
SJhapamama August 23, 2022
Wow--so easy, delicious, and addictive! I had everything in my pantry except nigella seeds, which were easily obtained from a small international store in my neighborhood. I served the pickles with a meal of leftover rice and grilled chicken. I will be making these again and again.
michelle December 7, 2020
I am addicted to these. I had to order a couple of the ingredients online since my local Indian Market has closed because of Covid-19. I can make them anytime now. Super easy. Wonderful flavor. I like them best fresh & warm with the crunchy seeds. But they are still good the next day or two (if they last that long!)
Megan September 27, 2020
Yum. Made this with chopped green tomatoes tonight to go along with dal & rice. Really added to the meal!! And a great use of green tomatoes, if you find yourself with lots at this time of year. I didn't have nigella seeds or asafetida and it was still delicious.
cookwhatyouhave September 14, 2020
This is fantastic! Totally lives up to the hype. I almost doubled everything but used only 3 serrano chilis and that was plenty of heat for me. I would add that i think this keeps well unlike what the recipe says. I've been enjoying it for almost 3 days now and just used the dregs as a dressing of sorts for chickpeas, more fresh chopped tomatoes, some feta and cilantro for a quick salad. On day two I chopped up the serranos so they integrated a bit better. Thanks for a fantastic recipe!
phip September 13, 2020
I finally made this and loved it for its simplicity of ingredients and preparation and its complex flavors. The flavors were very new to me. I had The tomatoes with 2 boiled eggs with softish yolks for an Indianish dinner. Dehlish.
soondubu September 11, 2020
This makes it sound like Priya's mom invented this recipe, which isn't true. I'm not sure why every article about her references her mom as this innovative chef when all of these dishes, even the fusion recipes, are pretty common. Anyway it's nice having the recipe laid out in print.
David H. September 9, 2020
This evening I had no idea what to eat for dinner. I've been on a diet since Covid and my refrigerator is almost empty. My goal is to lose 50 pounds so I've taken to extreme measures. I've been on a Soylent diet. Don't judge me, please. Tonight I couldn't take anymore of that beige stuff and this tomato & chile recipe was on my mind. I opened my refrigerator and, sure enough, I had cherry tomatoes, serrano chilies, & limes. I love to cook Indian food and I have black mustard, cumin, and fennel seeds. I have asafetida powder too. There were a couple of things I was missing from this ingredient list but, no matter, I was excited to try this delicious looking dish. In about 10 minutes total time I had an outrageously yummy and healthy dinner. I even ate the serrano chiles whole though next time I will probably slice them on the bias. Thank you, yet again Kristen, for another terrific and simple recipe!
Kristen M. September 10, 2020
David, I am so happy to hear this!