No wedding, festival or function in Orissa is complete without Tomato Khajuri Khatta. It is a typical Oriya chutney that is primarily sweet and a little tangy. As kids we used to have it with dal-rice, pulao, dosa, pakhala... jus about anything! But it has been years since I have had this now. My mom occasionally makes it, but since I get to meet my mom so rarely, tomato khatta has also become a rarity.
Now with some free time in hand, and lots of good quality Omani dates in the freezer, I decided to try and whip up some of this delicious relish.
Ripe Tomatoes - 1/2 kg
Seedless Dates - 15 to 18
Jaggery - 1 tbsp
Salt - 1 tsp
*Jeera-lanka powder - 1/2 tsp
Green Chillies - 3
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Ginger paste - 1/4 tsp
Oil - 2 tbsp
*Pancha Phutana (Panch Phoran)
Bay leaf - 2
The most quintessentially Oriya ingredients about this recipe are the Pancha Phutana and the Jeera Lanka powder. You can get ready-made Panch Phoran packets at any grocery store. But if you don't, just add equal quantities of cumin seeds (jeera), mustard seeds (rai), fennel seeds (saunf), fenugreek seeds (methi) and onion seeds (kalonji).
For the Jeera-Lanka powder, dry roast 1 tsp cumin seeds with 3 dried whole red chillies and then grind them to a coarse powder is the mixer.
This recipe works best with desi tomatoes which are more on the sour side. But you can use any ordinary, firm tomatoes too.
Quarter the tomatoes and slit the green chillies.
In a large heavy-bottomed pan heat the oil and splutter the Panch Phoran. Add the bay leaves. When the seeds start crackling, add the slit green chillies and ginger paste. Stir well. Now add the chopped tomatoes, dates, turmeric powder, jaggery, salt and jeera-lanka powder. Mix all the ingredients properly and pour in 1 cup of water. Cover and let cook for 15min. If you are not using a non-stick pan, then keep stirring in between to make sure the Khatta doesnt stick to the bottom of the vessel.
When the whole dish has turned into a mushy, chutney-like consistency and the water has evaporated, turn off the gas. Serve hot with rice and dal or curd rice. You can also bottle it and refrigerate it for up to a week. Tastes equally delicious when cold!
This recipe is my entry to Priya’s Big Chutney Chow Down. Do check it out for a treasure trove of dips, chutneys, relishes and the like.