This post marks Day 20 of Miss Ginsu's 2007 Advent Calendar. To click into other days and other projects, use the calendar page to navigate.
Ah, the office gift exchange! Secret Santas. Perpetually exchanged fruitcakes. $5 gift certificates that get lost immediately.
Between the cost restraints and varying levels of regular interaction, a gift exchange with coworkers can be tricky business, indeed. The classic white elephant gift exchange is fun, but I feel like I end up with a desk full of silly things that I need to dust periodically.
Last year, one of my coworkers gave me a jar of zippy tomato chutney with a little snowflake sticker stuck on it. It was delicious, and I was so pleased to receive something useful, tasty and homespun.
They went all out with the canning, but you could just as easily make a quick refrigerator chutney if you don't feel like sterilizing jars or don't have the space for a sealing operation.
This chutney is ultra-easy and very tasty with meats, veggies or rice dishes. It's a simplified version of a recipe by my former chef, Floyd Cardoz of Tabla restaurant. Go ahead and double or triple it if you're going to be giving away jars to friends or coworkers.
Quick & Spicy Tomato Chutney (Makes 3 pints)
1 28-ounce can whole or diced tomatoes*
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp nigella seeds
1 Tbsp finely chopped garlic
1.5 Tbsp finely chopped peeled ginger
1/2 cup white onion, minced
1 small dried red chili, crumbled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 Tbsp lemon juice, or to taste
1 Tbsp sugar, or to taste
1. If using whole tomatoes, chop the into 1" chunks. Reserve juices.
2. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until it's hot but not smoking.
3. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and nigella seeds to the pan, stirring until the mustard seeds pop (watch for flying seeds!).
4. Quickly add the garlic, ginger, onion and chilis.
5. Immediately reduce the heat and cook, stirring, until the garlic and onion are soft, but not browned.
6. Stir in the tomatoes, bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about an hour.
7. Remove the chutney from the heat, and add the lemon juice, sugar and salt and pepper to taste (the mixture should have a nice balance).
8. Remove the chili and pour into sterilized jars. If you're giving them as gifts, seal the jars in a water bath, or for home use, simply keep the chutney refrigerated (up to a week) or frozen.
*If you can find them, use the fire-roasted tomatoes from Muir Glen.