I’ve never really been one for chutneys or relishes but this one has stuck with me. A few years ago, at the Shoalhaven winter wine festival I had the first sausage roll that I didn’t hate. It was a rather fancy gourmet style one with a hint of chilli and cumin (which led me to write this recipe) and served with a chunky tomato relish. Slightly sweet with a touch of vinegar and a lingering spicy aftertaste, I remember thinking that I really needed to do some research into it.
I had obviously gotten some way into testing the recipe as the relish made it into the photo for the sausage rolls, but I never got around to writing it. I’ve remade it twice since then, working around this recipe which was great except that I found it far too sweet. I’ve cut down the sugar significantly for my recipe, but the rest is largely the same.
Having some homemade relish on hand is a great way to jazz up a cheese or charcuterie board. Obviously, it’s also great to have with sausage rolls, or you can eat it in the great Australian way that the boyfriend eloquently describes as ‘bread and sauce’. Apparently, it is common in Aussie culture to eat supermarket white bread with slatherings of tomato or barbecue sauce – possibly even both. I suppose this could be seen as the fancy version of that.
Lots of recipes call for the diced onions to be left overnight with the tomatoes but if you want to avoid the the sulphuric smell of overnight onions wafting through the house, do as I do and add them later. If you really wanted, you could blanch the tomatoes first to remove the skins but I don’t think it’s worth doing.
Be sure to use a non-corrosive bowl for your tomatoes – avoid aluminium and copper as the acidity from the tomatoes can react with the metal. Stainless steel, glass and ceramic are all fine to use.
The recipe is a simple one, but the amount of sugar and vinegar needed depend on the acidity of the tomatoes. The quantities listed here vary hugely from the original – the local tomatoes here in Sri Lanka just don’t have the same flavour. In any case, I doubt that you’ll need the two cups of sugar that the original recipe calls for. Just use your own judgment, taste and adjust with more sugar or vinegar at the end.
- 1.5kg ripe tomatoes
- 2 tsp salt
- 300g onions
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tsp mustard seeds
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 2 tsp crushed red chillies
- 125 g (½ cup) sugar
- ¾ cup white or malt vinegar
- 3 tbsp cornflour mixed with 3 tbsp water, to thicken
- Halve the tomatoes, remove the white cores (if any) and cut into half centimeter dice. Place into a large stainless steel or glass bowl and sprinkle with salt. Leave to stand for 3 hours or overnight - if you're in a rush, you can skip the resting but you'll need to cook the relish longer to thicken it.
- Peel the onions and cut into half centimeter dice.
- Drain the tomatoes, reserving the liquid in case you need to thin out your relish.
- Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat, then add the mustard seeds.
- Add the onions and tomatoes, cook for 15 minutes until the onions are translucent.
- Add the curry powder, crushed chillies, sugar and vinegar and cook for a further 20 minutes over a medium heat.
- At this point, you can adjust the consistency by adding some of the reserved tomato juices and/or thickening with the cornflour slurry. Remember that the relish will thicken as it cools. I usually use all the cornflour mixture.
- Taste and adjust with more salt, sugar and vinegar as necessary. Bottle in sterilised jars.