Tomato and Fennel-Seed Pickle
Though mango and lime pickles are easy to find on the shelves of Indian grocery stores, home cooks in India pickle all varieties of fruits and vegetables, including tomato. India’s pickle queen, Usha Prabakaran, documented this tomato pickle, flavored with a generous amount of fennel seeds. It’s capable of adding flavor and heat to breakfast, lunch or dinner. Asafoetida has a pungent smell out of the jar, but mellows as it cooks and gives the pickle its personality — don’t skip it!
- Serves: 3 persons
- ¾cup peanut oil
- 3tablespoons fennel seeds
- 1tablespoon asafoetida powder
- 1tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1pound sour or unripe Roma tomatoes (about 5), roughly chopped
- 2tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons tamarind juice (see Note)
- 7tablespoons red chile powder, such as hot paprika
- 2 ½teaspoons ground turmeric
- ⅓cup kosher salt
- 2tablespoons white vinegar
Step 1In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil over medium. When the oil is hot, add the fennel seeds and asafoetida and lightly toast, shaking the pan occasionally, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and grind into a powder using a food processor or mortar and pestle.
Step 2In the same pan over medium heat, add another tablespoon of peanut oil and the mustard seeds and give them a minute to crackle and pop. Add the tomatoes and stir-fry for a few minutes until tomatoes begin to soften, then scrape out into a bowl.
Step 3Heat another tablespoon of oil in the same pan; pour in the tamarind juice and bring to a boil. Let it simmer until it thickens, about 2 minutes, then stir in the tomato, toasted seed mixture, chile powder, turmeric, salt, vinegar and remaining peanut oil. Continue cooking for a few minutes until the mixture becomes jamlike and the oil separates.
Step 4Transfer mixture to a jar and cool completely. Once cool, the pickle is ready to eat, and lasts for three months in the fridge. Serve a spoonful alongside rice and yogurt, flatbread, vegetables or any other foods.