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Tomato gojju or spicy tomato chutney

“Gojju” in Karnataka (where I grew up), refers to a thick, tangy sauce made with tamarind pulp, some basic spices and vegetables that will hold their shape when cooked in a sauce – like capsicum (peppers), eggplant (aubergine/brinjal), onions, okra (bhindi), lemon and so on. The tamarind pulp is the predominant ingredient and gives gojju the tang it is so well known for. Gojju, much like chutneys in the Western world, can be served as a condiment to rice dishes. Alternatively, gojju can be mixed with plain rice and consumed as a dish in itself.

Tomato gojju is a version of gojju which takes advantage of the abundance of tomatoes in the tomato rich season in South India. No tamarind is added to this version as tomato has its own subtler tang (yay Vitamin C) and a beautiful red colour that is much more appetising than the dark brown colour of a normal gojju.

Tomato gojju can be mixed with rice to make tomato bhath (mixed rice) or used as a dip to go with flatbread (rotis, chappatis), idlis (steamed rice cakes) and dosas (savoury rice and lentil pancakes). The recipe is easy and the end product is addictive. The hardest part is not to eat it all before the sauce thickens in the pot.

I’ve been having some fun with Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to take the yellowness out of my pictures owing to the yellow lights in the house. I think it has worked well – hope you do too!

Tomato gojju with idli segments
Tomato gojju with idli segments

Ingredients (Picture 1 below):

1 can (440gms) of chopped Roma tomatoes in juice ( or 4-5 medium vine-ripened tomatoes diced)

1/2 a white onion, chopped finely (optional)

1 teaspoon of mustard seeds

1 teaspoon of urid+channa dal mix

1 teaspoon of curry leaves

0.5 teaspoon of ground asafoetida

0.5 teaspoon of ground turmeric

0.5 teaspoon of ground red chillies (optional)

1/2 a teaspoon of brown sugar (optional)

1 tablespoon of vegetable oil

salt to suit your taste


1. Heat the oil in a large pot (Picture 2).

2. Add the asafoetida to the hot oil and if it fizzles, then the oil is hot enough to start cooking in. Else, wait for 2-3 minutes before adding the remaining ingredients (Picture 3).

3. Add the turmeric and allow it to fizzle for 10-20 seconds (Picture 4).

4. Add the red chilli powder (if you want it spicy) and allow it to fizzle for another 10-20 seconds (Picture 5). Don’t let the chilli powder cook for too long as the fumes are quite pungent and will throw you into a coughing fit. And yes, do what I tell you not what I do 🙂

5. Finally, add the mustard seeds, urid and channa dal and curry leaves and cook for 30-40 seconds (Picture 6).

6. Once the lentils start to change colour, add the onions (if you want them) and cook until they go translucent and the raw odour of the onion no longer lingers (Picture 7).

7. Add the can of tomatoes/chopped tomatoes, sugar and salt to the onion-spice mix. If like me, you are in the habit of washing the can and emptying it into the sauce, please resist. The gojju is best when it is thick and if you add more water to it, you’ll have to stir it for longer to make it lose its moisture (Picture 8).

8. Cook the tomato gojju until most of the moisture has evaporated and it leaves the sides of the pot to form a thick, sticky paste. This may take anywhere between 10-20 minutes depending on the juiceness of your tomatoes. Don’t let the sauce burn!

9. Tomato gojju is better consumed at room temperature and even better the next day. It should keep in the fridge for up to a week – only if you don’t like it !

10. We had tomato gojju with some instant idlis as shown in the picture above. It goes really well with rice, rotis and dosas too so give it a go. I sometimes mix a couple of teaspoons of gojju in thick, unsweetened yoghurt and have it as a snack but that’s just me.



1. My grandma often made this gojju and because she didn’t like onions, she left them out. It tastes pretty good without onions too.

2. You can substitute red chilli powder with finely chopped green chillies if you prefer. Alternatively, add some mild curry powder or garam masala to add some flavour without hotness.

3. Instant idli mix made by a brand called MTR can be found in most Indian supermarkets.


Tomato gojju method
Tomato gojju method


gojju = go + j + joo as in juke

bhath = bath

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