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Tomato Ketchup - Spicy
Spicy Tomato Ketchup

Suresh Chandra Gupta

Note from Mamta: This is another one of my late father’s recipe, taken from his 'Preserves' notebook. He learnt to make all sorts of pickles, sauces, jams and jellies when he was in his mid-twenties, in 1930’s or 1940’s. He was a sugar chemist. Early in his career, in one of the sugar factories where he worked, he was in charge of making not only sugar, but also confectionery, sauces, pickles and chutneys. This was a large sugar factory in Yamuna-Nagar in Punjab (this is where I was born), now a part of Haryana state in India. His recipe is for 6 gallons of pulp, as it was a factory recipe. I have reduces it down for a smaller quantity of tomatoes, and adjusted it to modern, home cooking methods. The recipe is written in his neat handwriting and the measurements are in old Indian ‘saer/ser, pav/pao, chataak and tola’ system. It was hard for me to convert them to metric system, but fortunately my husband and my elder brother remembered the old Indian measures. Between them, they worked them out for me!

Edited August 2011

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2 kg. ripe, red tomatoes
1 small or 75 gm. onion
2-3 large cloves garlic (more if you like garlicky sauce)
2 red sweet peppers/bell peppers, for colour
Whole spices tied in muslin or cheese cloth. You can add them directly to the tomatoes, if you are going to blend the whole cooked pulp in an electric blender.
1 tsp. cloves
4 black cardamoms or badi illaichi, slightly cracked, to release flavours
1 tsp. whole black peppers (peppercorns) or kali mirch
1/4-1/2 tsp. cumin seeds or jeera
2-3 inch pieces of cinnamon sticks or dalchini
Ground Spice
A large pinch of nutmeg or jaiphal, freshly grated, if possible
1 tsp. chilli powder (adjust to taste)
1 tbsp. ground mustard seeds or rai or Coleman’s mustard powder
50-75 gm. sugar , adjust to taste
100 ml. white or light coloured vinegar. Dark vinegar will spoil the colour of the ketchup.
2-3 tsp. salt , adjust to taste


1.Quarter tomatoes. Remove stalks from sweet peppers, cut up rughly. Peel and chop onion roughly. Peel garlic.
2.Place all together in a large pan, with the whole spices tied in a piece of muslin or directly. Add 3-4 tablespoons of water. This water will stop the tomatoes 'catching' at the bottom, before they release their own water.
3.Cook until soft. You can cook these in a pressure cooker under full pressure for 2-3 minutes. You can cook them in a microwave too, but you will have to cook smaller amounts at a time, to get them all evenly soft.
4.Allow to cool a little. Remove spice bag.
5.If cooked in pressure cooker/microwave, drain off any clear, watery liquid that is at the top. This is because this method of cooking does not allow any evaporation during the cooking and your tomato purée ends up too watery, which makes the boiling time required to reach the correct consistency of the sauce too long.
6.Blend cooked tomatoes etc., and then press through a wire sieve, to remove any skin and seed residue.
7.Discard skin and seeds. You should have approximately 2 litres of smooth tomato pulp left.
8.Place pulp in a pan, add nutmeg, chilli powder, mustard powder, bring to boil and boil briskly.
9.When it begins to thicken (may take up to 30-40 minutes), add vinegar and 1/3rd sugar. Continue cooking until ketchup consistency is reached.
10.Add salt and remaining 2/3rd sugar. Salt and sugar cause discolouration. That is why they are added (except 1/3 sugar) towards the end.
11.Taste and adjust sugar, salt and chillies.
12.Pour while still hot into heated sterile jars/bottles and seal them.
13.Allow to cool completely. Label and store in a dark place, like a cupboard.


To ensure a deep red sauce:
Tomatoes should be ripe and red. Green chlorophyll turns brown on heating, so remove any green bits of tomatoes before cooking.
Use white or very light vinegar only.
If the sauce is too thin, you can add a little corn starch dissolved in cold water towards the end of cooking.
Also see Pickle and Chutney Selection.

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