Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Since I am travelling for the holidays I am using up perishables and I did not want to buy anything new. It has also been a bit of an eatfest for the last two weeks so I elected not to cook something that would be over too soon. As is the case with anything I just HAD to find a way to make the flavours last. I set aside the dried ingredients for the moment and decided to focus on the fresh.
Tree tomatoes come from the Solanum betaceum shrub that belongs to the solonacacea (deadly nightshade) family and are related to capsicums, potatoes, tomatoes and aubergines. They are called Tree Tomatoes in most of the world but were rechristened “Tamarillo by the New Zealand Tree Tomato Promotions Council in 1967 to distinguish them from the ordinary garden tomato and increase their exotic appeal.

An egg-shaped edible fruit native to the Andes of Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia, and Bolivia This fruit is cultivated in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Indonesia, Kenya, Portugal, the United States, Venezuela and grown as a commercial crop for international export in New Zealand and Portugal.

I also found out from the WWW that the skins are not eaten and are either blanched or charred off. I blanched them off for the relish and charred them for the chutney. I have to admit I preferred the flesh that resulted from the charred versions. I suspect this was because the heat caramelised the sugars in contact with the skin a little. The flavour of the tree tomato was similar to that of passion fruit (instant love for me!) with notes of kiwi and tomato thrown in. The fruit is usually eaten by scooping the flesh from a halved fruit, sometimes even lightly sugared and cooled. I could also see it bringing color, decorative value and interesting flavour and texture to salads. Tree Tomatoes in quantity could add an interesting dimension to stews, curries and chutneys, and curries. They certainly would make a luscious compote to top desserts, puddings and ice creams with a little spice stirred in.

Tree Tomatoes are also found all over the North East of India where they are commonly eaten raw, in salads and pickled. I began with the Tree tomatoes.

I had 6 Tree tomatoes of which two were looking a little worse for wear. I used the others along with the crab apples and a couple of the Naga chillies to make a Relish. The two softer ones I set aside to char and to make a chutney for dinner that night. As I was prepping the fruit, I realised that I did not have enough tree tomatoes. I added some figs I had picked up the week before. They were too green for eating raw but perfect to add to jam. Also their sweetness would make up the balance because the crab apples were very sour.

Tree Tomato and Naga Chilli Relish
2 c crab apples, sliced or diced fine
3 c tamarillos, blanched, peeled, halved lengthways, de-seeded and sliced (or other fruit)5 c sugar
1 c vinegar (I used a strong locally made toddy vinegar)3 naga chillies
1 c garlic
In a large deep saucepan, add thinly sliced crab apples with the vinegar (they discolour quickly but the vinegar arrests this) add a little sugar, add the tomatoes and a little more sugar. In a mortar and pestle pound the garlic and chillies. The inherent flavour that we love chillies and garlic for, comes from enzymes that are inbuilt to protect these plants. They come to the fore when they are endangered and there is nothing like a good bruising to get them good and angry! Exercise caution however, the Naga chillies are volatile, use gloves and avoid flying projectiles. Mix everything well and leave to macerate. In about 10 minutes the fruit will have given forth their juices and the sugar will have dissolved. Place on the flame and bring to a boil. Boil until all the ingredients are tender (about 40 minutes). Take off the heat, allow to cool slightly and then pour into sterilized and warmed jars (Place in an oven pre-heated to 120°C for 10 minutes). Cover with vinegar-proof lids and leave in a cool, dark, cupboard to mature for at least 4 weeks before using.

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1 comment:

Malar Gandhi said...


I am so happy to discover your blog' looks amazing with lots of colorful pictures.

Enjoyed reading your post about 'tree tomatoes', I have never seen them before' very informative...like the way you treated them...chutney looks divine:)

Wish You Happy New Year.

Malar Gandhi