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Something old....

Its that time of the year gain, the heat, humidity & the general enervation that goes hand in hand with summer. But, as tiring as the heat can get, Lets face it, we do not have to resort to the freezer for vegetables & that is always a good thing.
I've resolved that I'm going to treat myself to fresh produce as far as I can & fortunately, I found this awesome place, Hillsboro farm that grows & sells uber fresh veggies and its incredible to rediscover what a fresh homegrown tomato tastes like. Incomparable! So, for the time being the cans have been canned in favor of Fresh.
Of course, its no use talking about fresh if you don't have a recipe to do the flavors justice, for starters, take a look at this article from the New York Times by Mark Bittman on  Proper ways to treat an Heirloom. And, fortunately there is no dearth of applications for how to dress a tomato!. The first is  a traditional Italian recipe for a simple Tomato sauce,  and the other,  a traditional (well, as traditional as a Panfusine recipe gets anyway ;-)) South Indian tomato 'thokku' or relish, spiced up with roasted jalapeno.The point to note is that the techniques for both these almost stem from an identical starting point and yet, the end results are a culinary world apart.  Just take a look at this video from food52.

I came across the first recipe on Its an unbelievably simple recipe for a tomato based pasta sauce with exactly three ingredients (not counting the salt). This was the first time, I confess that I heard the name Marcella Hazan, but she's rightfully regarded as the ultimate authority on Italian cuisine.
To give you a brief idea of the person behind the dish, here's an excerpt from Craig Seligmans review of her book Marcella's Italian Kitchen from

Who wouldn't be a little bit intimidated by Marcella Hazan's revulsion at "the pallor of deep-freeze counters, those cemeteries of food, whose produce is sealed up in waxed boxes marked, like some tombstones, with photographs of the departed"? By her dismay at the "undiscriminating condemnation" of that "vital substance," salt? ("When I try something new, even after I have seasoned it to my satisfaction, I sprinkle a touch more salt on a separate biteful.") By her wholesale rejection of cold pasta? ("If I had invented pasta salads I would hide.") By the exuberance of her disdain for innocent cinnamon? ("I loathe cinnamon, so the less said about that the better.")
For more than 25 years now Marcella Hazan has been goading, browbeating, hectoring, shaming and, not incidentally, inspiring her readers into preparing Italian cuisine the proper way, which is to say, according to the traditional methods of the Italian kitchen. I use all five of her books all the time, but my favorite is her third, "Marcella's Italian Kitchen," in which she starts to break away from the wrist-slapping classicism of her groundbreaking early volumes, "The Classic Italian Cook Book" and "More Classic Italian Cooking," and lets her imagination play a little.

Image credit: Melissa Lyttle for The New York Times

Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter: (

In the interest of full disclosure, the measures used were strictly approximate, I'm sure Marcella would approve!

1 kg ripe tomatoes
~ 6 tbsp butter
1 large onion, cut in exactly 2 pieces (bisected)
Salt to taste.

Heat water in a large pot & bring it to a boil. Drop  the tomatoes, piercing them with a knife. When the skin splits, remove them carefully, allow to cool and peel. Add to a blender & puree.
In a large saucepan, combine the tomato puree, butter, salt and the onion. Simmer until the  puree is thickened to the consistency of sauce and the butter floats up in little droplets. (stir it  back in). Remove the onion halves (which are spectacularly delicious, just smooshed up with left over rice). Serve over pasta.

Tomato relish with smoked jalapeno & arbol chile

In the true spirit of nothing ever should go to waste, my thrifty grandmother would buy up the less than perfect 'yesterdays' tomatoes from the vendor, striking up a good bargain, & invariably, this haggling session would be followed by a heavenly aroma of tomato chutney brewing from the kitchen in the afternoon. The tartness of the tomatoes is complemented well by the smokiness of the toasted arbol chiles. In addition to the dried arbol chiles, my variation includes roasted jalapenos in the mix for an extra kick. I pair this with anything from toast to mixing it with plain rice. Although this would work with a can of crushed tomatoes , nothing compares to making this with ripe heirloom tomatoes fresh from Hillsboro farm around the corner from home.


3 pounds ripe heirloom tomatoes
4 Jalapeno peppers
4 dried arbol chiles
1/2 cup Canola oil
1/2 teaspoon Asafetida powder
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric powder
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 sprigs curry leaves (~ 20-24 leaves)
1.5 teaspoons brown sugar
kosher Salt to taste (~ a tablespoon) 
Set a large pot of water to boil. When it comes to a rolling boil, add the tomatoes, allowing for the skin to split. Remove the fruits carefully using tongs and cool down enough to peel the skins off. Remove & discard the top scar from the tomatoes. Set aside.

In skillet, toast the arbol chiles till they just begin to brown, Set aside. Add the fenugreek to the same skillet and allow to toast to a reddish color. Lower the heat and add the curry leaves. these should curl up & dehydrate without browning. Set aside to cool. When cool combine the fenugreek, curry leaves & the arbol chilies & grind to a fine powder. Set aside.

Roast the jalapeno over the stove top till the skin blisters. Drop into a paper bag (ensuring that there are no smoldering ends!) to cool & rub off the blistered skin off. Cut, de-seed, chop and add to the blanched tomatoes. Blend the two into a puree in a food processor.

Heat the oil in a skillet. When smoking hot, add the mustard seeds to sputter. Carefully pour the jalapeno/tomato puree and stir in the asafetida, salt & turmeric. Boil off the liquid from the paste until the oil starts oozing from the mixture. (the consistency will be that of a thick paste) Add the sugar and the arbol chili spice blend (adjust as per taste & heat tolerance) and mix to combine.

Cool & store in clean glass jars in the refrigerator. The heat from the chili peppers tends to mellow down overnight. Given the variations in jalapeno heat, I'd advise starting with two  & adding more half way through the cooking process if you prefer. 
Serve with just about anything.. (I love it on toast!)

Bon appetit!

Next week:  Something New!


  1. this is something i should try, i love toast breads, surely it will complement with it :)

    am now your newest FB liker and GFC follower from

  2. Hi Niv, thanks for stopping by - That was the part I'd cut and pasted and overlooked - It is indeed Fenugreek Seeds... So please do participate :) cheers, priya

  3. wow awesome recipes here....

    my first time to your space....very nice space too!

    happy to follow you!!

    Do visit my space when time permits:

  4. I'm going to make this with this year's tomatoes! Thank you!


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