Using One Pot One Shot method to Caramelize Onions and Tomatoes
I am very excited to share this post with you, as it is fresh out of the OPOS (hack) Labs. It all started off twenty four hours ago – Chef Rama Krishnan, shared a hack where he caramelized onions and tomatoes together in one pot one shot. I was all fired up !
What exactly is caramelization of Onions/Tomatoes?
Cooking down finely chopped onions/tomatoes over low, low heat to get their natural sugars to slowly and evenly caramelize.
Here is a great article by Chef Kenji Lopez of The food labs on his technique of caramelizing onions.
Normally, in open pot cooking, if you want to caramelize onions and tomatoes, you will stir fry onions in super low heat until brown and then add tomatoes, continue cooking until both of them are fully caramelized. Am I right? If you ever tried adding both together, you will only end up with one watery onion and tomato mixture, as the moisture in the tomatoes will act counter productive in browning the onions. As you can infer, in the open pot cooking method, there is a lot of elbow grease spent in stirring and sauteing for long periods of time. This OPOS hack eliminates this constant supervision and cuts down the time required by a great extent. Excited? So was I….
So, I went to my favorite food blog serious eats (love them !) and tried to re-create one of their yummy recipes – Fresh Tomato and Caramelized Onion Jam Recipe, shared by food blogger Josha Bousel. Only that, I used the Chef RK’s One Pot One shot technique of no water flash cooking. In the original recipe, you will see Josha spends over 2 hours making this delicious looking Jam. Let’s see how long it took me to come close –
I cut down the quanity by approximately 50% and used Indian vegetables and spices. Also, I kept the sweetness to hotness ratio to suit my palette.
I started with 300 grams of ripe local tomatoes (Naati variety which is sour) and 150 grams of Onions. The Onions were 50% of the tomato quantity. I chopped the onions very finely. The smaller the onion bits the better the caramelization. I cut off the top part of the tomatoes and scooped out the seeds and then cut them into small pieces.
In a 2 liter pressure cooker, I took 1 tablespoon melted butter. Layered the chopped onions in the edges of the cooker leaving a circular gap in the center part. Filled the tomatoes in the center part. Why not one on top of the other? Same reason we don’t fry onions and tomatoes together. We don’t want the moisture of the tomatoes on top of the onions constantly preventing it from browning.
Next, I added the spices and condiments on top of the tomato pile – 1/4 cup of light brown sugar, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 3 teaspoons of kashmiri red chili powder (to promote deep color at the same time avoiding hard hitting heat) and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
I closed the pressure cooker, fix the weight and cooked at 1100 w (high flame in a gas stove) for 7 mins and 50 seconds. Yes, go ahead judge me ! I used a stop watch. Wonder why? There is only a thin ….very thin line between caramelization and charring. It is only a matter of seconds before it crosses over to become charred. We want to take the process all the way and stop JUST before it is going to get burnt ! literally…talk about living life on the edge 🙂
Here is the result in the pic below – This is on opening the cooker. The deep brown color layer you see at the bottom of the cooker which is called “Fond” is the desired caramelization ! You want to scrape that fully and mix it up with the browned onions and tomatoes. You can see the cooker bottom clean at the end of the process. I gave the mixture a nice stir to make sure I incorporate the spices along with the vegetables.
The hot and sweet chutney is ready. I went ahead and coarsely blended it with a hand blender. You can omit this step if you like a chunkier version ! Yum !!