I am copying the recipe out of a very tattered inland letter card written by my chitti (chittappa's wife) to amma dated 16th of March 1974. Amongst lot many things scribbled therein, she has managed to write a whole recipe. Amma has many letters saved in some Mangharam Biscuit tins those were addressed to her and we have a gala time reading them. There are so many of them there. Some of them are from my uncle complaining that rice was selling at somewhere in the vicinity of INR21/- ( in British Pounds then), my first report card (written by the class mistress on a post card stamped 5 np.) from Cliff's school, Ooty, Niki's first greeting postcard and many more. She has them safe even now.
Anyways, the recipe , which I had to proportion to limit to present day's consumption goes like this:
Tomatoes 2 kg
Mustard seeds 100 gram
Cumin seeds 100 gram
Fenugreek seeds 50 grams
Tamarind size of a cricket ball
Dry red chillies 20- 25 numbers
Turmeric powder 1/2 teaspoon
Chilli powder 50 gram
Ginger 50 grams (optional)
Garlic a whole with about 10 pods (optional)
Salt to taste
Gingely oil 500 gram
Wash tomatoes, wipe them dry with a cloth. Cut them in 8s or 4s depending on the size.
Place the cut tomatoes on a big plate and applying slight pressure with your fingers squeeze some juice out of them. Soak the tamarind in this juice thus obtained.
In a heavy bottomed pan, dry roast each separately the fenugreek seeds until slightly brown, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and red chillies. Pound them separately in a spice grinder and keep aside.
If you are using ginger and garlic, grind them separately without adding any water.
In the meantime the tamarind would have soaked in the juice well. Obtain the pulp by repeatedly squeezing it out.
Mix all of the powdered spices, ground ginger, garlic paste and the tamarind extract to the tomatoes. Add also the turmeric powder and salt. Mix them very well.
In the pan heat oil until just before smoking. Pour the hot oil over the mixed tomato pieces. Allow to cool and store in clean,dry bottles. Stir the pieces well once a day.
As this is made without adding any water, it will keep well for few weeks.
The tomato pickle is a very delicious accompaniment to rotis, chappattis and also curd rice.
I made it with 400 grams tomatoes and proporionate ingredients.