Green Tomato and Habanero Chutney

As with my ongoing onslaught of eggplant recipes this chutney has its origin in a need to use up excess produce from my vegetable garden: in this case, green/unripe tomatoes that fell off the vines while I was picking ripe ones and many, many peppers, hot and sweet. The first version was made entirely by the seat of my pants, with nothing measured. I filled three jars, kept one for us and gave the other two away. That would have been the end of it except that the recipients raved about it and two of them in particular have been persecuting me endlessly for the last couple of weeks to replicate it and post the recipe. Well, I have some good news and I have some bad news. You want the bad news first? Well, I wasn’t able to replicate it exactly. The good news? This is pretty close anyway and very good in its own right. Will it get Ben and Lisa off my back? That remains to be seen. In the meantime, they and our friends Aaron and Kip are the only ones other than us who ever tasted the original so that shouldn’t matter very much to the rest of you.


  • 1 tspn cumin seeds
  • 1 tspn fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tspn ajwain
  • 1/2 tspn methi/fenugreek seeds
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1 tspn crushed garlic
  • 1 lb unripe/green tomatoes, chopped coarsely
  • 8 oz sweet red peppers, a handful of Thai chillies ripened to red, 8-10 habaneros—all stemmed and de-seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4-1 cup sugar
  • 2 tblspns salt
  • 5 tblspns neutral oil of choice


  1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a wide but not too shallow pan.
  2. When the oil shimmers add all the cumin, fennel, ajwain and methi.
  3. As soon as the methi darkens (very soon), dump in the curry leaves and take a step back.
  4. When the curry leaves stop popping and turn glossy add the crushed garlic and stir till the raw aroma is gone.
  5. Now add the chopped green tomatoes and the salt, stir and cook over medium-low heat till the tomatoes have softened considerably.
  6. Add all the chopped peppers, stir to mix thoroughly and let the mixture simmer for 3-5 minutes.
  7. Add the vinegar and sugar, mix, bring to a high simmer and hold it there till the mixture thickens while still remaining easily pourable (probably somewhere between 20-30 minutes).
  8. Ladle into clean jars, let cool and store in the refrigerator.


  1. Please note that as with all my other pickle and chutney recipes this has not been pH tested for canning. Unless you do such testing please do not can this. My own practice—as with all my pickles/chutneys/relish etc. is to give at least half of my production away to others to eat up quickly and store the rest in the fridge.
  2. If you don’t have access to green/unripe tomatoes you could try this with tomatillos but bear in mind they will give up a lot more liquid. If you do make it with tomatillos let me know what you think.
  3. For the sweet peppers I used a mix of Candy Cane and Cajun Belle peppers from my garden. Use whatever you have at hand but you want something with more depth of flavour than a red bell pepper. If you don’t have access to ripened Thai chillies you can sub something like a red Fresno or Jalapeño—they’re quite a bit milder than Thai chillies but you can adjust the heat up if you like by using more habaneros.
  4. You can adjust the heat level up or down to your preference but do use some habaneros—there’s nothing quite like the mix of heat and fruitiness you get from habaneros. All the usual warnings about handling habaneros apply. It’s best to wear thin plastic kitchen gloves such as these [affiliate link] and to be scrupulous about washing your cutting board and knife.
  5. You can also adjust the sugar down but I wouldn’t increase it past a cup–it’ll become too syrupy.
  6. The consistency/how much you thicken it is also something you can adjust to your preference. Taste (cautiously) as you go and stop when it’s where you like it. Remember: it will thicken further as it cools.
  7. Depending on how much you reduce it this should make somewhere between 1 and 1.5 pints.




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