Chutneys are sort of sweet endings to our meals. In general, among Bengalis, a meal starts with fritters and lentil, ends with chutneys, of various types. Among us Chutneys are made with various ingredients like tomatoes, mangoes, raw papaya, ambarella[amra], jolpai[Indian olives], koromcha[ karanda], chalta[elephant apple]. Of all these, Tomato chutney is the most common one.
Remembering the good old days of childhood, mom would prepare chutneys, sweet n sour, to feed us few more morsels of rice.I remember, many a leisurely afternoon was jazzed up with achars n chutneys. She would prepare achars and store in glass jars. During holidays, my favourite pastime would be to sit with those jars in the balcony of our two-roomed rented house along with my favourite book. I had that ability to concentrate on both. She still prepares them, but I no more can savour them. Many years after, I played the same trick with my son when he was young. I made chutneys to make my son finish his food little earlier, who usually took 1-2 hours to finish a meal.
Our chutneys are usually sweet given the sweet tooth Bengalis have. We prepare sweet n sour ones too. Tomato-Date Chutney is the most common of all the ingredients we use for chutney. Let us proceed with the recipe which requires ripe tomatoes, dates, raisins and lemon juice.
Ripe Tomatoes : 4
Dates : 3
Raisins : 7-8
Lemon : 1
Sugar : 1/2 small cup
Lemon : 1[the juice]
Black Mustard Seed : 2 pinches
Salt : 2pinches
Oil : 1tsp
Wash, cut and deseed the the tomato pieces. In a blender, blend them to a smooth paste.
Deseed the dates and cut into halves. Wash both dates and raisins. Get the juice from the lemon.
Heat the oil in a wok. Temper with mustard seeds. Add the tomato paste. Add 2 pinches of salt. Cover cook at lowest heat for 5-8 minutes stirring occasionally.
Add the sugar. Stir nicely. Cover cook for 7-10 minutes at low heat stirring every 2 minutes.
Uncover and add the dates and raisins and stir. Cover cook for 2 minutes or until the chutney turns a little sticky.
Add the lemon juice. Stir well and switch off. Its done.
Enjoy and your meal on a sweeter note!!