The Red Death (Roasted Tomato and Trinidad Scorpion Chutney)

There comes a point at the end of every growing season when I tire of making and freezing more and more batches of tomato sauce for pasta for the next nine months. One of the ways I deal with the excess—after giving loads away to undeserving and ungrateful bastards—is by making spicy tomato chutney. My general go-to recipes are this and this (versions of each other). This year, however, I put a twist on the second one that turned out remarkably well. I’m not referring to the fact that I used a Trinidad Scorpion pepper from my garden (I normally grow Habaneros for my satanically hot pepper needs but our local nursery didn’t have any this year). No, the twist was that I oven-roasted the tomatoes first. I’d made a batch of regular oven-roasted tomatoes with herbs with some garden San Marzanos a few days earlier. We normally eat those in sandwiches with mozzarella and arugula etc. but it struck me that the concentrated, savoury tomato flavour would probably make an excellent spicy chutney as well. And so that’s what I did with my next batch of San Marzanos and then with an even larger batch of Amish Pastes. The result is a complex, hot chutney that you can dab small amounts of on top of sliced, dressed tomatoes, smear lightly in sandwiches or eat as you would a regular achaar/pickle alongside dal and rice. The first step—oven-roasting the tomatoes—will take a long time. But it needs no supervision and once the tomatoes are ready the rest comes together very fast.


  • 2.5 lbs roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 ripe Trinidad Scorpion or other satanically hot pepper of choice, lightly charred, seeds and ribs removed and minced
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1 tspn freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tspn freshly grated garlic
  • 1 tspn haldi/turmeric powder
  • The following ground together to a coarse powder: 2 tspn zeera/cumin seeds, 1 tspn fennel seeds, 1/2 tspn methi/fenugreek seeds
  • 1/ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tblspns olive oil
  • 1/4 cup un-toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tblspns + 1 big pinch salt


  1. Heat your oven to 200ºf. While the oven is coming to temperature, lay your halved tomatoes cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil, trickle the olive oil over the tomatoes and then sprinkle a big pinch of salt over. Place the tomatoes in the heated oven and forget about them for about 10 hours or till they have shrunk dramatically and are beginning to crisp on the outside. Set aside.
  2. Heat the sesame oil over medium heat in a stainless steel saucepan and when hot add the curry leaves and grated ginger and garlic.
  3. Once the curry leaves turn glossy and the raw aroma of the ginger and garlic changes add the oven-roasted tomatoes and give them a good stir to mix everything in well.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium low and saute for a few minutes.
  5. Add the salt, ground masala and haldi, mix in and saute for another minute or two, stirring often.
  6. Add the vinegar and the sugar, mix in and saute, stirring continuously for another minute or two.
  7. Add the minced Trinidad Scorpion pepper and mix in thoroughly.
  8. Cook, stirring almost constantly for 7-10 minutes or till the tomatoes are partly broken up, partly holding their shape and the whole takes on a jammy consistency.
  9. Ladle into warm jars and refrigerate when cool.


  1. As with all my recipes for preserves, this has not been ph tested. Refrigerated it should last for a while but the best thing to do, always, is to keep some for yourself and give the rest away to people who will enjoy the heat (this recipe should make just over a pint).
  2. If you don’t want to be roasting tomatoes for 10 hours you could do them at 225ºf instead and shave a few hours off. But really it’s best to just slap them in the oven at a low temp in the morning and let them go till done. Once the tomatoes are done you can proceed with the rest of the recipe right away or refrigerate the tomatoes and get to the recipe proper in the next day or two.
  3. If your roma tomatoes are on the larger/thicker side, you might want to cut them into quarters, lengthwise—otherwise they’ll take too long to cook down in the oven.
  4. It looks like a lot of salt and will taste quite salty at first. But it’ll mellow very quickly as the flavours meld and pickle in the finished chutney.
  5. If you don’t have satanically hot peppers or don’t fancy using them you can always just use the hottest red chilli powder you can handle.
  6. I’ve since made a large batch with jaggery in place of sugar and quite a bit more cumin. It’s very good that way as well.
  7. There’s a Reel but it’s only of the last step to give you a sense of the consistency you want to end with.


2 thoughts on “The Red Death (Roasted Tomato and Trinidad Scorpion Chutney)

  1. This is a genius idea that I hope to steal for the second innings of my tomato harvest. Slow roasted tomatoes have been a versatile starting point for many delicious dishes. I’ll have a hard time following your recipe as is though.


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