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Tomato achar (Chutney)

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March 5, 2008

Serves 6

1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (optional)
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds (optional)
3 medium plum tomatoes
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
8 cloves fresh garlic
2 small red or green hot chili peppers
1/2 teaspoon Nepalese timur or Sichuan pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
Salt, to taste
1. In a heavy dry skillet, toast the sesame seeds, cumin seeds (if using), and mustard seeds (if using) for a few minutes or until they are lightly browned and fragrant. Cook them long enough to impart a toasted flavor, but take care that they do not burn. Remove the toasted seeds from the pan and set aside.

2. Place the tomatoes in the pan and set over medium heat. Cook, turning occasionally, until the skins are lightly charred and browned in spots and tomatoes are slightly softened. Remove and discard the skins.

3. In a blender, combine the tomatoes, toasted seeds, cilantro leaves, garlic, chili peppers, Nepalese timur or Sichuan pepper, lime juice, chili powder, and a pinch of salt. Work until the mixture is pureed; make it smoother or chunkier, according to your taste. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if you like. Transfer to a bowl. Adapted from Jeny Lalchan

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