Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tomato pickle

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.


  1. Wow.. my favt yumyum pickle..!

  2. Hi Lata,

    The pickle looks yum!!! I see the size of your tomatoes...Are they roma? How many tomatoes did you use?? I have farm grown variety thats a little more sour and bigger....How many days did you wait before you started usng it??? Was it powder salt????

    Thanks, Shobha

  3. Thank you Shama and Sanghi. @ Shobha, Those were local produce of Ghana, may compare with Bangalore ones we get in Tamilnadu. These are slightly sour too.I used around 5 tomatoes weighing 400 grams.I get rock salt here so I use mostly that.Usually, I roast the salt and hing too for longer shelf life.You can use straight away though in about two days the tomatoes are soft and absorb the spices well.But long ago amma may have used naattu thakkali I'm sure.

  4. Great presentation of tomato pickle Lata..I love them !!

  5. Oh wow ginger garlic to the pickle sounds interesting .. love tomato pickle always.. this is really mouthwatering ..I have bookmarked and will try it out next week and surely post u..

  6. How nice to find an old letter with a gem of a recipe written there...the pickle looks spicy and yum !

  7. that's lovely a very old recipe..., looks good, will definitely give it a try, i always like pati's, chittis, periamma's recipes!!

  8. looks so authentic and yummy :)

  9. wow tomato pickle? Finger licking taste right? Pic looks heavenly...I feel like having it right now..

  10. Hi Lata,

    You have a nice space here.

    I did not want the stories to stop. The recipe can wait - the story is more interesting!

    How fun is it to discover something like that - I haven't heard the word 'inland card' for many years now - and as soon as I read it, I can remember the blue color card and the strip where you lick to stick it. If it was the first time you were using it - you surely stuck it all the wrong way - the address probably went in the inside and the letter was on the outside. Remember?

    Save that big biscuit tin of your mom's - that is just so invaluable!

    The pickle looks great too!

  11. Its nice to read old letters isn't it. These are simple pleasures. Loved this tomato pickle. I make a short cut version. Thanks to ur amma for keeping the letter and to you for sharing it with us.

  12. hmm....love this pickle.drooling.gr8, u took this recipe from a old letter.thanks!!

  13. please do collect ur gifts from my blog

  14. I really love Tomato pickle with rice and lentils. Although its very rare. And every time I have to search for it to have a bottle of it. But this time I will make it. Thanks for the process.

  15. This looks finger licking pickle......want to grab ur pickle jar...

  16. Indeed old letters are like treasures. Your pickle looks delicious.

  17. Got it !!! I am going to do this tomm!!!

  18. We tried this tomato pickle immediately once i cleared my doubts with you in email.
    It came out delicious,outstanding one and finger licking taste for sure.
    I think we can't wait for 2 days to use it and it's really mouthwatering.It's testing my patience.
    We couldn't believe that we made such a fabulous recipe and all the credit goes to you only.
    It's going to be really use for bachelors like us whenever we feel like having homefood.
    Thanks for sharing such a useful & authentic recipe in your blog and for clearing my doubts in email.
    I have a question, do i have to keep the pickle outside or in the refrigerator.What is the lifetime for this pickle?

    Thanks once again for this lovely recipe.


    1. It is safer to store in the refrigerator and the shelf life will be six weeks to eight. Use clean, dry spoons to take out and each time wipe the lid clean before covering and storing it back.


Welcome and thank you for taking time to drop by.
I appreciate your valuable comments and tips.
I sincerely hope to improve with them.
Hope we shall interact often.
Thanks once again,
Lata Raja.