Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tomato Pickle (tomato thokku) and Tomato Jam

Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Larry Ellison - what do these people have in common besides being billionaires? They all do not have a college degree but head very innovative and successful technology companies.

As cost of higher education has steadily gone up many are questioning the necessity of and importance given to college education. Those of us who got a start in life without big student loans to our names are more than lucky. A vast majority of graduates here in the US have huge student loans which many of them will be paying off even into their 40s.

after 30 minutes of cooking and oil added

I or rather my parents paid a total of Rs 3200($72) for 4 years of engineering education, yes subsidized by the government and what I am doing in a foreign country? That is an argument for another day. Compare that to more than $20,000 to get my Master's degree. Was the cost worth it? Absolutely not.

For many parents here in the US, the cost of paying for their children's education competes with having to save for retirement.

Is college education overrated? Do they really teach skills that will help young people get well paying jobs that will set them on the path to financial security? A couple of decades ago perhaps the answer would have been different but with the astronomical costs of today's college education. The answer IMO is a resounding 'No'. There are many who hav come to believe that a college education is not the only way.

after 1 hour of cooking with spices added

The more I read about it the more I see the merits in that argument. For most of us who grew up, fed with the thought that that not getting a professional degree leave alone a degree, this is akin to a crime. With the ever rising cost of education, the return on investment takes longer and longer to realize negating the beneficial effects of a college education. Read this article for reading more.

There is absolutely no argument to the fact that college educated people make more over their lifetime than those who do not. Increasingly in today's job market, there are also those with college degrees who wait tables, pump gas and make do with jobs that don't need a high priced college education. Is it time to rethink and change our traditional views on education and make it more adaptable to today's reality?


What are your thoughts on college education? Do you or your kids have a choice in the matter?

The tomatoes I have been harvesting needed to be dealt with. One batch was predestined to become tomato thokku pickle. I have almost perfected the recipe to suit our taste buds. I also wanted to make something else besides a pickle with the second batch of tomatoes. Tomato ketchup was a top choice but my curiosity about making a tomato jam took over. What do you know Nupur announces the BB7-The Iron Chef Edition. I did not plan it that way but the long weekend last week had me cooking both the pickle and jam on the same day and I am glad I did. If I had procrastinated one or the other would not have gotten done.

Perfect side for any meal

I already my mom's recipe for tomato thokku pickle but the one I am going to present today is one that I have arrived at after quite a few attempts at making them. The recipe that I consult is from Saffron Hut. A combination of this recipe and my mom's recipe has been the one that has worked best.

Best to use a deep heavy bottomed pot to avoid splatter. Not adding garlic helps in keeping the pickle last longer and leave the pungent smell out.

Tomato Thokku Pickle Time to cook: 1 - 1 1/2 hours
1. 2 quarts of chopped well ripened tomatoes
2. 2-3 tbsp of minced green chilies (more or less depending on taste and availability)
3. 1 tbsp tamarind (don't soak in water) or 1/2 tamarind paste(optional)
4. 2 tbsp chili powder (adjust according to the heat from the green chilies)
5. 1 tsp mustard seeds + 1/2 tsp methi seeds + 1/4 tsp asfoetida
6. 1 cup of sesame oil
7. 1 tbsp kosher salt (adjust to taste)

1. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil, add the minced green chilies
2. Add the chopped tomatoes and let them cook for 30-45 minutes. Make sure the heat is kept at medium and not let it stick to the bottom of the pot.
3. You will see the tomatoes slowly start to loose their moisture and thicken.
4. Gently roast the mustard, methi and asfoetida, powder and keep aside.
5. Heat 1/2 cup of the oil and add to the tomatoes and let it cook for another 20-30 more minutes.
6. Add the chili powder, the roasted powder and salt. Mix it in.
7. Cook for another 20 minutes or so, the bubbling will slowly stop and the oil will start to separate. Heat the rest of the oil and add to the pickle and let cook for 5 minutes.
8. Cool and transfer to clean sun dried jars.

1. Use the tamarind only if the tomatoes are not sour
2. Add the tamarind directly to the tomatoes and after they have cooked remove the skin and pith
3. The time to cook the tomatoes depends on the juice in the tomatoes.
4. For a longer shelf life cook till the oil is clearly rising to the top and add the required amount of oil.

Compared to the pickle the jam cooks much quickly. Most recipes I found and the one I was really interested in this recipe on the Minimalist blog but with chilies and ginger and spices like cinnamon and cloves added I was not too eager. I have tasted jalapeno jelly and it did not taste right and was not too crazy about it, so I decided on a very basic recipe for jelly. The jam turned out pretty good an now is a favorite to spread on toast.

Tomato Jelly Time to cook: 1 hour
1. 4 Cups of chopped ripened tomatoes
2. 1 Cup of sugar
3. 1 tbsp lime juice
4. 5-6 cloves

1. In a heavy bottomed pan, mix in the tomatoes, sugar, cloves and lime juice.
2. Let it cook undisturbed for the first 30 minutes
3. Keep a close eye and stop the heat when it comes together in a shiny mass.
4. The jam gets thicker when it cools, remove from heat when a drop dropped in a cup of water does not dissolve.


  1. My Maa always makes tomato pickle that sustain us the whole year. last year I also tried making a small batch. I love your tomatp Jam. unusual and looks perfect to spread on toast.

  2. I love Tomato Jam.. my Mom's specialty. So I am sure yours must taste marvelous! Your thokku looks delicious too!

    Re. college education.. I agree that it is a big dent in one's fortune. But community college is not a bad option at all. And state schools are a bit less expensive than private. But if the kid is intelligent, then no-degree at all is a really hard choice for a parent to make. If the kid doesn't want to or cannot pursue academic study that's another thing. All in all.. I agree.. it's hard and would vary from person to person and situation.

  3. Tell me about it, this month the only thing we have done is going to the bank often to payS college . We pay one bill and then in few days get another one for this or that and then a another etc....and the classes even hav enot yet stated. So you cna imagine.
    Bu what ever it is Iam happy that she want to learn futher and we are happy to pay for her as higher education is really importnat.
    Especially a this time and age, I thinkBill gates etc... were lucy I think and ofcourse they worked hard too.
    Look to Richard Brandson well he didn't even finish his highschool.

  4. Sayantani, the jam more than surprised me too.

    SS, I am glad to hear that. Can you be so kind to part with your mom's tomato jam recipe? I am curious as to how else it can be modified.

    Absolutely community colleges I hear are getting very popular. I am particularly talking about certain branches of liberal arts education which do not cut it in terms of making a living.

    HC, you make a good point. Not everyone is talented and lucky as Bill Gates and co were. Many of us would not dream of denying a college education for our kids. Here in the US the costs are so astronomical that is worth the effort to give it a second thought.

  5. The pickle looks spectacular(Im a HUGE pickle and tomato fan) so the combo is a dream to me!
    Agree with ur view ..but i guess as u said its ingrained in us to want the college degree at any cost..regardless of its actual intrinsic value ...however how many of us will actually be OK with our kids not pursuing a higher degree...

  6. Tomato jam - mom has made it once and we absolutely loved it! but alas! she has no memory of making one whatsoever and so no recipe to share with me! I still remember the container and the shelf it was kept and how the jam looked and tasted. Tastebuds have more memory I guess! :)

    I'm a huge fan of tomato thokku as well, Indo! I use an lazy woman's version though.

  7. Yummy looking pickles and jam..very tempting..

  8. Hey Indo.. According to my Mom, it is the same as our Apple Jam (sans the ginger addition). Just supposed to replace apple by tomato. She also skins the tomato and strains the cooked puree through a somewhat large strainer to get the seeds, whereas the apple is unpeeled. I have been meaning to make her jam myself one of these days. Will let you know nicer measurements if I do that. Cheers!

  9. both the recipes are simply tempting and mouth watering.

  10. Oh my! The pictures on this post have me pawing at the screen, thanks for the tomato-fest for BB7.

    As for college ed, I could not agree more. When I see these college tuitions and the lush campuses, posh gyms and dorms that they pay for, it seems like another big-time money spinner.

    More real world experience and fewer initals behind one's name- that would the way to go, if you ask me (and I collected quite a few initials behind my name as I learnt that real world matters more...)

  11. Indo, you're right about expensive higher studies that very few but rich ppl can fulfil their dreams! Or will end up to pay the loans till half of the life.

    Of course, education is important but individual person's talents+luck+favour from Universe is very important too! It's my personal thinking though.

    Your tomato pickle is making me tempt and I'm drooling over it! :) Bookmarked! Will sure try it.

    P.S.:Thanks for your warm welcome and words at my blog. :)

  12. I Just love this tomamto Pickle but never knew how to make one. Great post will surely try it once.

  13. Good point there. Shudder to think what our kids will have to go through..

    Your dishes look great!

  14. I am the kind who will vote for college education only because I think left alone very few will become Gates or Jobs, most will just become thugs and wreak havoc.

    But yeah college ed is becoming expensive. In India I hear school is pretty expensive too.

    But as SS said, you can choose State Univ., I went to a State Univ. for my masters many moons ago and it cost me about 12k. But they are becoming expensive too nowadays especially if you choose Medicine etc.

    Mom used to make a tomato sauce and pickle when she grew tomatoes in abundance. I will go for your pickle any day.

  15. Hi,

    Your recipes are different and honestly more than your recipes it is your comments that interests me. I have accidentally seen your blog a couple of days earlier when I was looking for some recipes. You are doing an excellent job and I have written down some of u'r recipes. Will let u know when I'v tried them. I am in the UK living with my hubby & 8 year old son.

    Schooling and college fees are no different here either EXPENSIVE!! We have started saving a little every month from now on to pay college fees for our son. Things have definitely changed now and it is wise to start joining a pension scheme (the UK govt has increased retirement age to 65 and are thinking of increasing it further to 68 or 70!! not sure if many will live to draw the pension) or investing somewhere for when we get old.

  16. Girija, thanks and also for being honest and I am glad you like the musings part of the blog! Once again Welcome!

  17. Sandeepa, you do have a valid point which I am going to address in an upcoming post. Thanks for reminding me about that.

  18. I'm waiting for all my tomatoes to turn red and then it'll be full steams ahead in making your tomato jam/chutney. Yum yum yum!!


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