Whenever I invite people over for a meal, I get all worked up and start planning for a 101 things to make. I even buy all those ingredients for the 101 things and since my organisational skills are extremely good I end up cooking the very last moment, panic and in the nth hour decide to not make half of the things I planned on preparing.
Story of my life.... You'd think I'd learn from mistakes, no, not me, that ship has sailed long past and I sit and wallow in sympathy (or at least hope I get some sympathy). I panic and turn to the husband who decides to console me by saying I take too much unnecessary pressure, its only a bunch of friends, you don't even need to make starters, why are you overdoing it, no one will eat so much so on and so forth...not what you want to hear when you have guests coming in any time, a messy (open) kitchen, at least two dishes on the hob (bubbling away) and a human version of an exploded volcano- that's me btw (forgive the pun).
Its always the starters that I end up leaving for the last minute and invariably not make it at all. Ro keeps telling me its rude to hover around the kitchen when there are guests involved. I admit its rude to cook while they are around, but checking in on stuff in the oven, filling a tart or even frying something is acceptable, especially because these things, if made before hand, loses all the goodness. Which of course is all Greek and Latin to my husband and we end up arguing about it (always and in between all this commotion).
So anyway, coming back to the topic, we had a few relatives over a while back and since there were quite a few of them we decided to order biryani from a fav restaurant of ours. Since main course was taken care of, I had all the time in the world to go ballistic on starters. Again, after a warning from the husband that I shouldn't over do it, since biryani is a heavy meal, I still went ahead and make a tonne of starters. I also decided to do a wine and cheese pairing since most of them were wine drinkers (and also because I had just researched and written an article on wine pairing and it sounded too good to pass). I made this chutney rather by fluke and it ended up being a great accompaniment with cheese and crackers. It is so easy to put together and stays in the refrigerator for quite some time. I also use this as a dip for momo's, vada's and even dosa and idli. The measurements are all adjustable, so bear with the vagueness.
Olive oil- 1/2 tbsp
Sea salt- to sprinkle
Pepper- to sprinkle (freshly ground)
Coriander leaves- 1/2 tbsp, chopped (optional)
Green chilli- 1, roughly chopped
Ginger paste- 1 tsp
Garlic paste- 1 tsp
Vegetable oil- 1/2 tbsp
Mustard seeds- 1/4 tsp
Fenugreek powder- a generous pinch
Asafoetida- a pinch
Salt- to taste
Pre heat oven to 200C
Line a baking tray with silver foil and arrange the tomatoes on it, cut side up.
Drizzle the olive oil over the tomatoes and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
Roast in the oven for about 35 to 40 minutes.
Once done, take it out and leave to cool. You can peel away the outer covering if you want, but I left it on.
Grind together the roasted tomatoes, coriander leaves and green chilli to a paste-like consistency.
Mix with the ginger and garlic pastes.
When ready to cook, heat oil in a sauce pan and add the mustard seeds. Let it splutter.
Add the tomato paste along with fenugreek and asafoetida powder and cook on medium heat till you see the oil separating. Keep stirring in between.
Check for seasoning, add if required and take it off the flame.
Notes: Its a slightly tangy dish, so be prepared.
Add more green chillies if you want it spice or if you want a mild version, omit the green chilli altogether and add a half tsp of Kashmiri chilli powder instead.
Replace olive oil with any other oil. I like how the olive oil gives a distinct taste.