I love home-made ketchup, and it’s even more satisfying making it from home-grown tomatoes.

In the past, I’ve made several batches with red tomatoes and a couple of batches with green ones but this is the first batch I’ve made with beautiful orange sungold tomatoes, a variety we’ve been growing for the last few years. Sungold is a cherry tomato variety and naturally super sweet, so a lot of the harvest doesn’t even make it indoors, or last long if it does. But our plants are giving us plenty this year, both those in the greenhouse and the ones outside. I was keen to see if I could preserve the vibrant colour in a ketchup to enjoy once the growing season is over.

SungoldTomatoKetchup- SungoldTomatoKetchup-2

I used my maternal grandfather’s Spicy Tomato Ketchup recipe – the same one I’ve used before. I had 940 grams of tomatoes, so I halved the recipe and made some minor adjustments to spices as well.


Spicy Sungold Tomato Ketchup

1 kg ripe sungold tomatoes
Half a small onion, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
Whole spices in fabric bag *
5-6 cloves
2 black cardamoms, cracked open to release flavours
Half teaspoon whole black peppers, cracked open to release flavours
Half teaspoon cumin seeds
1-2 small pieces of cinnamon or cassia bark
Ground Spices
Half teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated if possible
1 teaspoon chilli powder (or to taste)
2 level teaspoons mustard powder
40 grams sugar (with extra available to adjust to taste)
50 ml cider vinegar (with extra available to adjust to taste)
1 teaspoon salt

* Instead of wrapping my whole spices in muslin tied with string, I use fill-your-own teabags for speed. These are easy to fish back out of the pot and throw away once used.


  • Sterilise your jars and lids. I boil my lids in a pan on the stove for 20 minutes before laying them out to dry on a clean tea towel. I sterilise my glass jars in the oven, leaving them in until I’m ready to fill them.
  • If you like, you can cut the tomatoes in half, or just slash each one, which makes it easier for them to break down more quickly, but as the sungolds are small, I put them in the pan whole and squish occasionally with a wooden spoon as they cooked.
  • Place tomatoes, onion, garlic and bag of whole spices into a large pan. Add a couple of tablespoons of water to stop the tomatoes catching at the bottom before they release their own juices.
  • Cook until soft.
  • Allow to cool a little. Remove spice bag.
  • Blend into as smooth a puree as you can.
  • Press through a sieve to remove skin and seed residue.
  • Place the sieved liquid into a pan with the nutmeg, chilli powder and mustard powder and bring to the boil.
  • If your liquid is quite thin, boil longer to thicken. The time this takes can vary wildly. In the past it’s taken half an hour. This time, I found the liquid was reasonably thick after 5 minutes boiling.
  • Add the vinegar and sugar and continue to cook until the sauce reaches ketchup consistency.
  • Add salt.
  • Taste and add additional vinegar or sugar, if needed.
  • Remove the sterilised jars from the oven and pour the ketchup into them while both ketchup and bottles are still hot.
  • Seal immediately.
  • Once cooled, you can label and store in a dark cupboard.

Please note: As this recipe has only a small volume of sugar and vinegar (both of which are preserving agents), you may prefer to store the ketchup in your fridge and use within a few weeks. We have stored it in a dark cupboard, eaten it many, many months after making, and found it fine. However, we are not experts in preserving or food safety, so please do your own research and decide for yourself.


How have you been preserving your garden or allotment harvests? I’d love to hear your recipes and ideas for tomatoes, apples and potatoes in particular!


My family call this sauce imli (tamarind) chutney. The word chutney comes from the Hindi chaatni which describes a tangy condiment that makes you lick your lips at it’s flavour! Although the verb chaatna means to lick I think lipsmacking is the most appropriate translation in this case!

I refer to it as a ketchup or sauce because I’ve found that most people in the UK think of chutneys as condiments with chunks of fruit and vegetables in them rather than smooth sauces like this one.

Traditionally, it is used in chaat dishes – snacks which again make you want to lick your lips (and your fingers) clean of every last morsel! They are often sold as street food – though many families enjoy them at home too – and are usually hot, spicy, tangy and with a contrasting mix of textures.

The chaat dishes I’m most familiar with usually include a dough-based element such as gole-gappa (crisp puffed-up fried breads) or maybe something like vadas (lentil dumplings) plus natural yoghurt, tamarind chutney (or ketchup, as I’m calling it), a combination of spices and herbs and perhaps also some boiled potatoes, chickpeas, salad items and green mango coriander chutney. I like for there to be something crunchy in the mix against the softer potatos and chickpeas, myself.

Oh and my parents also like an accompaniment called jal-jeera (fire-water) which I reckon is an acquired taste and one I’ll never acquire!

Recipes for all these dishes can be found on our family recipe website, Mamta’s Kitchen. (Mamta is my mum).

But the sweet sour spicy flavour of tamarind ketchup should not be restricted to such a small niche – I also like it as an alternative to regular tomato ketchup with anything from burgers and chops to chicken fritters and if you mix it with yoghurt it makes a lovely dip!

Mamta’s Kitchen Tamarind Ketchup

400 gram packet of dry tamarind pulp, with stones/skins intact
Approximately 1 litre hot water
1 teaspoon cooking oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
A large pinch of asafoetida powder
6-7 teaspoons salt. *
100 grams jaggery or brown sugar or muscovado sugar *
1 teaspoon chilli powder *
2 teaspoons roasted cumin powder
1-2 teaspoons garam masala

*The quantity of these ingredients should be adjusted during cooking, according to taste. The tarter the tamarind, the more salt and sugar it will need.


Dried tamarind block, broken into pieces
  • Break the tamarind block up as best you can and soak in hot water for an hour or longer. This will soften up the dry tamarind. It should be squishy.
  •  Massage the pulp to help separate seeds and skins. I follow my mum’s advice to wear rubber gloves as tamarind is quite acidic.


As I’m making a large quantity here I’m doing the mashing and squeezing while a friend is pushing the resulting liquid through a sieve to remove any rough bits
  •  Mash and squeeze the pulp to release a thick liquid of the flesh and water. Mum usually uses a colander or sieve to squeeze the pulp against for this step however the most recent time I made the ketchup, I was at a friends and found her steaming set a great help – a large pan with small colander-sized holes in the base that fits snugly on top of a large saucepan – much more stable than mashing into a colander or sieve balanced in a pan or bowl!

More mashing and squeezing
  • Depending on how well you’ve extracted flesh from the seeds and skins, you might want to re-soak the remnants in a smaller volume of hot water and make a second pass of mashing and squeezing. I do usually do this.
  • You should end up with a large quantity of thick liquid.

Sieving the liquid to remove any remaining bits of skin and fibre
  • If you used a colander for the previous step, you may wish to strain the liquid through a sieve to get rid of any remaining lumps of skin or seed but if the liquid looks smooth and lump-free, don’t bother.

Discard seeds and skin
  • Discard the seeds, skins etc.
  • In a large pan heat the oil.
  • Add the cumin seeds and asafoetida powder. When the seeds splutter, pour in the tamarind liquid and all the other ingredients except the garam masala.
  • Allow it to boil briskly, stirring from time to time.
  • Taste and adjust salt, jaggery/sugar and chillies to reach your preferred balance of sweetness, acidity and heat.
  • If the liquid is too thin continue to heat to reduce volume and thicken up. Note, this ketchup is not intended to be really thick and gloopy but of a pouring consistency.
  • Add garam masala and stir in.
  • Take off the heat and allow to cool.

  • Pour into sterilised, airtight bottles or jam jars.

The ketchup will last well in the fridge for a few months. Jars can also be kept in a freezer, indefinitely.


Feb 152010

We’ve been growing veg in our back garden for several years, increasing the varieties and volumes each year. In 2009 we ended up with an unexpectedly large number of tomato plants. Tomato plants which need sun to ripen. In a summer which didn’t really give us much sun. At all!

Having had such lovely feedback on the first batch of spicy tomato ketchup I made back in July (to my grandfather’s recipe, for sale on my one-off Covent Garden stall) I figured it would be even better (psychologically, if not taste-wise) if I made it with tomatoes grown by our own fair hands!

I didn’t take any photos of the two batches I made in September, one red and one green.

But I made another really large batch with the several kilos of green tomatoes I finally accepted were never going to ripen and harvested in early October.

For some reason I forgot to blog it, but as I just found the photos and really like the recipe, I decided late is better than never!

I think I worked a little too hard when mashing the tomato through the sieve as the ketchup ended up with tiny but visible fragments of tomato seeds through it. These don’t spoil the taste, or even the texture, on eating, but make it look less visually appealing than the two earlier batches.

The actual colour is greener, but I’ve messed up the white balance on these and didn’t
manage to correct it properly when processing the images. Sorry!

The recipe I followed is my grandfather’s one for spicy tomato ketchup, on Mamta’s Kitchen. This recipe uses ripe red tomatoes. For green tomato ketchup, omit the optional red peppers and add extra sugar, to taste.


Some of you may know I’ve been working on produce for my day manning a stall of my own on the Real Food Market at Covent Garden (27th August).

These pictures are just a small selection from two marathon sessions up at my parents’ house in Luton. Thank goodness for my mum and my cousin, who shared the heavy workload!

Spicy Tomato Ketchup

Apple and Sultana Chutney

Tamarind ketchup – it took so long to hand squeeze that sauce mum’s pouring from the tamarind blocks soaked in water – ouch!

Apple jelly – well it was back then; now it’s caramelised chewiness!

Chilli and ginger pickle

Lemon Pickle

A different chilli pickle

My favourite of the lot – nectarine and amaretto jam
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