spicy heirloom tomato relish and the giveaway winners

Spicy heirloom tomato relish

There's no better way to symbolize summer in a kitchen, than a bunch of colorful and mismatched heirloom tomatoes. They are vibrant with hot and radiant colors, it's as if the sun got absorbed into one big juicy ball of deliciousness. Whether eaten fresh or cooked their flavors are rich and as appealing as their looks. 

Beautiful Heirloom Tomatoes

These heirlooms turned out to be perfect in my spicy relish. I've been looking to create a hot relish for a while that would remind me of a good Indian pickle that would be hot and sour but mildly sweet. The cider and dash of brown sugar help to enhance the natural sweetness of the tomatoes and the heat of the chilies and spices. As with most Indian chutneys, pickles, and relishes, this tomato relish is fantastic with any meal.  Just a note of caution, whenever selecting tomatoes for canning, go with red or pale yellow tomatoes versus the greener ones as the greener varieties contain a toxic compound called solanin. Canning is a cooking process that concentrates flavors and compounds and using a large number of green tomatoes will increase the amount of solanin.  So please keep this in mind while preserving tomatoes by any concentration process.


I could have peeled the tomatoes before cooking them but it just didn't feel right. I like the texture, it somehow makes the relish feel and taste even more "tomatoey" .If you want to get rid of the skin, then cut a cross or "X" mark at the bottom of each tomato, then dunk the tomatoes in a pot of boiling water for 20 seconds and transfer the tomatoes into an ice-bath. Let them cool and the skin will come off easily when you peel. 

Heirloom tomatoes

The Siggi's dairy giveaway is over and I chose the entries randomly using Rafflecopter on July 17, 2013. The five lucky people in no random order are...

1. Holly H.
2. Tiffany G.
3. Matt W., and
4. Jason B. 
5. Sarah M.

By now you should have received an email from me and will have 48 hours to respond or I will select another winner. Congratulations to all the winners and a big thank you to the kind folks at Siggi's Dairy for sponsoring this fun and delicious giveaway! and the giveaway winners

Hot and spicy tomato relish

spicy heirloom tomato relish

yields: approximately 2 quarts


10 lb heirloom tomatoes
2 cups vegetable oil (peanut)
1 tablespoon dried red chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup red onions, finely chopped
3 thai chili peppers
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup brown sugar
kosher sea salt

1. Wash and wipe the tomatoes dry, remove the stalks if any and dice the tomatoes into large chunks. Discard any seeds. Keep the tomatoes aside.
2. In a coffee bean grinder, grind the chili flakes, fennel, coriander, and cumin to get a coarse powder. 
3. Heat the oil on a medium high flame in a large thick bottomed saucepan. As soon as the oil begins to smoke, add the ground spices and turmeric. Stir for 15 seconds and reduce the flame to a gentle simmer. If the spices begin to burn, discard the oil and begin again. 
4. Stir in the onions and cook for another 5 minutes. Trim the stalks off the chilies and slit them across their length. Add the chilies to the saucepan and cook for another 2 minutes with constant stirring. 
5. Add the tomatoes to the saucepan and increase the flame to a high. Add the vinegar and sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce the flame to a medium high. Stir constantly to avoid any burning. Continue to cook the mixture until most of the liquid has evaporated and the oil begins to separate from the tomatoes. The mixture should turn into a thick paste. Taste and adjust the salt as necessary (You can also add a little vinegar to it, if you want to make it more sour). Remove the saucepan from the stove and transfer into 4 clean and sterile 500ml canning jars. Process for 15 minutes and store in a cool dry place. 

winter chickpea salad

When you live in a city like D.C. you are constantly forced to deal with space issues or rather the lack of it. You end up adapting to the lack of space by buying and collecting less junk, getting rid of current junk, developing innovative ways to store your junk, or perhaps finding someone with extra space to store your junk. Since, I decided to redo the master bedroom and get a larger bed, I've been coming up with ways to get rid of stuff we don't need by simply tossing it out. I've begun a new project at the home front, "Project Redo Bedroom". Needless to say, I am inundated with choices, wider beds, beds with built-in storage, armoires versus dressers, different shades and tones of white paint for the walls, etc. I'm also nurturing the notion that I will build shelves on the wall and buy more books to fill them up. So here I am creating a muddle for myself, trying to get rid of stuff by buying more stuff to hide it all away. This is the dilemma of choices that I have brought on myself for the next few weeks.

Don't get me wrong, choices can be fun too and this recipe surely takes a note of that. This is a hot salad for a cold wintry day. Chickpeas come in so many fun colors and varieties. You have the regular chubby garbanzo beans and then these brown and green varieties that are a little smaller and sturdier in their texture when cooked. This salad is based on a street food recipe from India that is light and delicious. You would normally find vendors selling this spicy hot salad out of cones of newspaper, topped with fresh lime juice and hot chili flakes.

This is one salad where I prefer the main ingredient to be hot in temperature while the rest of the ingredients can be added in cold. But this salad is even wonderful, when it comes chilled straight out of your refrigerator. Though I've listed amounts below, feel free to add as much chili flakes, tomatoes or scallions as your taste buds demand. Fresh lime juice is the key to bringing this salad together. Though not traditional, you can even add some dairy to this salad but tossing in some fresh feta cheese. Either way, this salad is delicious, refreshing and fun.

winter chickpea salad


1/2 cup green chickpeas
1/2 cup brown chickpeas
1 bunch fresh scallions (about 1 cup)
1 large tomato (about 1 cup)
1 teaspoon red chili flakes (I used dried Kashmiri chili)
2 limes
salt and pepper to season

Soak the chickpeas in water overnight. Drain and rinse the chickpeas with cold water. Boil the chickpeas in a pot of water till tender. This should take about 45 minutes, then drain the chickpeas and keep aside. In the mean time, prepare the rest of the vegetables. Slice the tomato in half, discard the seeds and chop the tomato coarsely. Finely slice the scallions at an angle. In a mixing bowl, add the chickpeas, tomatoes and scallions. Slice the limes in half and extract their juice. Add the juice to the vegetables, sprinkle the chili flakes and toss to mix. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or chilled with toasted naan or flat-bread.


I'm going to sign up for a cheese course at The Seasonal Pantry this month with my friend Shannon. It's time
I learned something about my favorite condiment/dairy delight/breakfast/tea.....all rounder and can't wait for the class soon enough. I've heard some fantastic reviews about The Seasonal Pantry from friends, so I think I am ready for this exciting class taught by the American Cheese Society, I really wonder if they sit and taste cheeses all day at their jobs, now that would be amazing.

This week we opened our C.S.A box to find an assortment of tomatoes of different colors and sizes. I could probably spend hours just staring at the different colors in the box and keep pondering on how to tackle them. Fortunately, we also had a couple of nice sized heirloom green bell peppers in our box which kind of pushed me towards making a gazpacho. Though, I think my motivation behind preparing gazpacho is the fact that we have returned back to the late 90's this week again and what better way than to get through the heat than with a chilled bowl of gazpacho at your side. On a side note, you can vary the final color of your gazpacho by playing around with the colors of your tomatoes and peppers, my soup turned out a bit orange due to the yellows and greens but if you wanted a red soup stick with red peppers and red tomatoes and if you wanted a more yellow soup use yellow colored produce.

Here's the recipe that I modified slightly from my copy of The Essential Mediterranean Cookbook, I love these cookbook series, they have almost everything in these books with beautiful pictures. Yes, I love pictures in cookbooks, I think cookbooks sometimes make better coffee table books than those on travelling.


yield: 4-6


1 kg(2lb) tomatoes
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped 
2 large cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup white vine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of red chili hot sauce or 1 red chili, seeded


1/2 Lebanese cucumber, seeded and diced
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1/2 ripe tomato, diced
fresh basil leaves

1. Mark a cross at the base of each of the tomatoes, if you use small cherry or grape tomatoes like I did you don't need to cross them. Set a large pot of water to boil on the stove. Once the water is boiling, plunge the tomatoes in and let them boil for 10 minutes. Then remove the tomatoes and let them cool till you can handle them. Chop the head of the tomato and peel the skin off (I prefer to leave the skin for both the large and the small tomatoes).
2. Add the rest of the ingredients to a food processor ,except those for the garnish. Pulse and taste the mixture to see if it is seasoned well. Refrigerate to chill for at least two hours and then garnish before serving in individual bowls.

Gazpacho is one of those soups that gets better with time, I normally prefer to leave it in the refrigerator chilling for at least one day before I serve it. Coincidentally, I just remembered trying out a bowl of watermelon gazpacho at Matchbox in Chinatown last week. Matchbox is famous for its pizzas and 3-6-9 sliders but the wait times are terribly long and they have a no reservation policy which makes it challenging at times, but then again its well worth the wait.