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A tale of two chutneys: Tomato and Coriander

grilled cheese with chutney

I’ve always loved grilled cheese sandwiches. Comfort food at its finest, there is nothing more heartening than two pieces of bread fried with butter or olive oil (I use the latter and can’t tell the difference), with a layer of melted cheese between. My Mum makes the best ones. She has the patience to cook them very slowly over low heat in a heavy pan, essential for reaching that optimum balance of molten inside and crunchy outside.

But this isn’t a post about grilled cheese sandwiches. No, it’s a post about grilled cheese sandwich accompaniments, namely, chutneys. This wasn’t always my dip of choice, until recently I was a fan of Sambal Oelek, the Indonesian hot chili condiment. But on our trip to New York City last month, Andrew and I lunched with a friend at SoHo’s Hampton Chutney Co. , which completely changed my views on the subject. 

We ordered our dosas, the South Indian sourdough crepes for which this place is famous, without actually seeing one, and looked at each other with a mixture of fear and trepidation when they actually appeared. These things are huge. Luckily, they’re also paper-thin, so are much less substantial than they appear. 

It wasn’t the dosas themselves that inspired me, though. The Hampton Chutney Co. serves each meal with a choice of chutney (naturally), which for me, far outshone anything else on the table. I ate my cheese dosa with the tomato and cilantro versions, a completely transformative experience. Rather than just “spicy”, these little taste-boosters were practically alive with flavour. I knew immediately that I needed to make some myself, and this past weekend, craving grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch, was the perfect opportunity to try.

chutneys

The coriander chutney was easy. Much like an Asian-style pesto, I simply pureed a bunch of coriander with some green onions, chili, lime juice, and a touch of sugar to cut the sharpness. Much simpler than the rudimentary recipe given on the Hampton Chutney Co. website, it was nontheless exactly what I was after.

The tomato version was a bit trickier. Most recipes I came across online contained chopped tomatoes and vinegar, and were matured for some time. Well, I didn’t have time- and I wasn’t after that sharp, pickled taste anyway. The tomato chutney I’d tried had been an altogether different animal; smoother, sweeter and richer. I began with the idea that several different forms of tomatoes (fresh, sundried and paste) would provide the depth I needed, and took it from there. With a pinch of chili flakes, some fresh parsley and a touch of garlic to keep things interesting, I cracked it. Not a complete doppelgänger, but delicious just the same.

These chutneys were fantastic with our grilled cheese sandwiches, and equally tasty in some wholewheat quesadillas the next day. Yesterday, I had the remainders in some scrambled eggs for lunch, but I can think of a million ways to use these. I definitely recommend giving them a go, if only to spice up your old grilled cheese. 

sandwich with chutney

  • Tomato Chutney
  • makes about 1 1/2 cups
  • 100g seeded (but not skinned) cherry tomatoes
    5 sundried tomatoes, reconstituted in hot water and chopped finely
    2 Tbs. tomato paste
    1 tsp. ground cumin
    1/2 tsp. chili flakes
    1 tsp. sea salt
    1/2 clove garlic, minced
    15 g (a small bunch) parsley, chopped 
    1 tsp. sea salt
    1 Tbs. olive oil 
  • 1. Put all ingredients in a food processor and blitz until combined. (Alternatively, you could place all ingredients in a bowl and use an immersion blender, as I do.)
  • Coriander Chutney
  • makes about 1 cup
  • 100g coriander (about 3 cups), thick stems removed
    5 green onions, chopped (white and green parts)
    1 small green chili, chopped
    2 tsp. ground cumin 
    1 tsp. sea salt
    1 tsp. sugar
    zest and juice of one lime
    2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1. Put all ingredients in a food processor and blitz until combined. (Alternatively, you could place all ingredients in a bowl and use an immersion blender, as I do.)

3 comments

  1. Ashley says:

    I love the sound of both of these! And eating them with grilled cheese is a great idea. I never really eat chutney unless it’s offered in a restaurant.

  2. Ele says:

    Ashley, these are the first chutneys I’ve ever really liked, and I’d definitely never considered making any before now. They were really good with the grilled cheese- ketchup gets a little old, after all!

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