I had wanted to try the tomato jam in my kitchen since quite some time. My first attempt at making a jam was when I made apple jam while in high school. Although it came out well yet I could not grasp the nuances then. The consistency was never regular and at times it used to quite frustrate me. Mum never made jams so she was of little help in this matter. Years of cooking and practice have made me more confident and I understand the tricks and nuances better. The other day at the super market when I saw these plump ripe brilliant red tomatoes, I couldn’t stop myself from buying them by kilos. My husband was pretty shocked by this bulk purchase and on being told of my plans, he gave be a rather black look. He does not like tomatoes. Perhaps he didn’t want to hurt me by showing his disdain for the idea of jam or may be towards my intention of making a huge batch of it, since tomato jam in the house was something he could not wrap his head around. In fact I turn tomatoes to puree before I add them to curries. As for the salad, it is me who ends up eating them in the salad since even my daughter is not able to appreciate the taste of tomatoes and that leaves poor me completely outvoted.
The fact that I love tomatoes was the primary reason for me to go ahead and throw all my apprehensions to the wind regarding the kind of reactions that I would elicit from both my husband and my daughter. I entered the kitchen with a purpose. The beautiful plump red beauties seem to be calling out my name, beckoning me to transform them into an irresistible jam for the cynics (read hubby and daughter) 😉
I usually try to do my cooking or baking while they both are away. I have this weird kind of style of functioning in the kitchen; I want the kitchen to myself while I am at the stove. I don’t like someone talking to me while I am at work or even stirring the pot for me! Talking makes me lose my focus and second, I know when and how much I need to stir the contents in the pot simmering over fire. So stay off limits! My daughter often complains that I should put up a ‘Do Not Disturb’ board outside the kitchen while I am at work. Not only cooking, even the clicking part is done before they are back from work.
So this jam was made when she was away to school and hubby at his work place. I was eagerly waiting for them to return home. As soon as my daughter came, I offered her to taste the jam. Her reaction was not very discouraging (or that is what I would like to believe!)…all she said was ‘it’s OK’. Next, enters the hubby. He started hunting around for some snacks in the kitchen and his eyes fell on the jam. Without any prompting from me, he grabbed a spoon and took a little bit from the jar. (I wondered if his action was driven by hunger or was it curiosity!) I looked at him with awaited breath…without looking at me, he again scooped the spoon inside the jar and this time the spoon was holding more amount of the jam which he happily licked clean. I exhaled with delight and content; almost a coup moment for me! I believe he couldn’t help fall in love with the enchanting red colour and the delicious enticing hot-sweet-spicy flavours of the jam. Need I say more about this jam?!?
I used the following amount of ingredients: (this recipe can be easily doubled) I have given the jam a little Indian twist.
½ kg ripe Red Tomatoes
350 gm Sugar
1/3 C packed, very finely chopped Onion
1 tsp very finely chopped Ginger
1 tsp very finely chopped Garlic
1 tbsp mustard oil
¼ tsp nigella seeds
1½ tsp red chilli powder (+/-)
1 tbsp white vinegar
½ tsp garam masala (optional)
Blanch the tomatoes, remove skin and finely chop them.
Heat the oil in a heavy bottom pan till it begins to smoke (mustard oil needs to be smoked to remove its pungent smell). Remove the pan from heat and tip in the nigella seeds and allow them to cook for five seconds.
Place the pan on heat again and add onions, ginger and garlic. Sauté till they become golden brown and aromatic.
Add tomatoes and cook for approximately 25 minutes. Add sugar and after 10 minutes add garam masala, red chilli powder, vinegar and salt.
Cook again for five to seven minutes ( it is recommended to check for the done-ness of the jam after five minutes of cooking and cooking further only if it is required) or till you achieve a jam like consistency. (I had to cook it for further two minutes to reach the desired consistency)
Keep a plate in the freezer for five to ten minutes. Once you reach the last stage of the process, remove the jam from heat. Drop a small amount (half a spoon or less) of jam on the plate. Let it stay untouched for about half a minute and then run your finger through the jam. If the jam shrinks, it is done. Another way you can check is that it should not run down if you tilt the plate.
Storing the jam:
Sterilize the jars in which you wish to store the jam. Fill the jars with jam and leave ½ inch space between the lid and the bottled jam. Seal and put the bottle in hot water (not immersed) for approx 10-12 minutes. Remove and leave it for a day; ensure you don’t move the bottle.
Serve with grilled chicken or prawns, cold meat cuts, in burger, patties, with cheese and crackers or of course spread on bread or even parantha, as a side…or just enjoy spoons full straight from the jar J
Note: You need to switch off the heat when the jam is not too thick in consistency since it thickens further on cooling. (It should coat the back of a spoon and slowly drip down). Else, you will have crystallized/hard jam. Therefore the done-ness test is of utmost important.
Note: In case you intend to change the amount of sugar in the jam, remember you will also need to alter the cooking time. More sugar means lesser cooking time and less sugar means increase in cooking time.
Note: I have updated this post with fresh pictures but I kept a previous one as well. I have started using brown sugar instead of white, to make this jam and that is the reason why the color of the present pictures is deeper darker red while the previous one is bright red. The kept the previous picture for reference.