If you do get time from savouring the robust fish curries and the rich meaty ones, do reserve some room for the great Bengali condiments. Bengali cuisine, that goes back thousands of years in time, is incredibly layered. Much like most of older cuisines, it has also been influenced by locals and foreign settlers. The sweet and delectable tomato chutney is proof. Tomato, as we all know, is not native to India. Many claim that it were the Portuguese who got the tangy fruit to Indian shores, while some argue that it were, in fact, the British who encouraged the cultivation of tomatoes in India. Regardless, tomatoes did become an intrinsic part of Bengal’s culinary fare by the 17th century. Another key component of this chutney, raisins, were also mostly popularised by the traders coming in from the North-West frontier like Kabul.  

What Goes Into The Special Bengali Chutney?  

The rustic chutney is not sweetened by sugar but jaggery and if you are lucky enough, you may find this ‘mishti’ chutney sweetened by the khejure’r gur, or the date palm jaggery of Bengal. Before you start to think that this chutney is basically a dessert masking as a condiment, we must tell you that the rich, red colour of the chutney is not just because of juicy red tomatoes. Kashmiri red chilli powder is also one of the core ingredients of the chutney, so is bay leaf and mustard seeds. Very few condiments around the world balance ‘sweet’ and ‘spicy’ like our Indian chutneys and this tomato chutney from Bengal is just one of the fine examples from the tall list. 

Tomato Chutney And Its Significance In Durga Puja Bhog  

This chutney has a very distinct red, translucent appearance that makes it vision when it is splashed on a plateful of hot khichdi served during Durga puja Bhog. Khichdi, sweet chutney, mixed veg together promise a symphony of flavours that is hard to mimic. It is okay if you miss out on a chicken roll or two during your Durga puja pandal hopping, but make sure you get in that line for the bhog. It is truly an experience.  

Here’s how you can make the sweet

at home.