Mamta's Kitchen

Tomato Ketchup-Suresh Gupta's Spicy

Spicy Tomato Ketchup

Late Sri Suresh Chandra Gupta


Note from Mamta: This is another one of my late fathers recipe, taken from his 'Preserves' notebook. He learnt to make all sorts of pickles, sauces, jams and jellies when he was a young Sugar Chemist, in his mid-twenties, in 1930s or 1940s. Early in his career, in a large sugar factory in Yamuna-Nagar in Punjab (this is where I was born) . Yamuna-nagar is now a part of Haryana state in India. This is where I was born, a very long time ago! British Raj came to an end while he was at this factory.

He was the chemist in charge of making not only sugar from sugar cane, but also confectionery, sauces, pickles and chutneys. He used to make all the pickle, jams, bottles sauces and fruit juices in our house.

His recipe is for 6 gallons of pulp, as it was a factory recipe. I have reduced 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 elder brother and husband remembered the old Indian measures. Between them, they worked them out for me!

See notes below for my quicker version.

Edited November 2021


  • 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 Colemans 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.

  2. Remove stalks from sweet peppers, cut up roughly.

  3. Peel and chop onion roughly.

  4. Place tomatoes, onions, garlic cloves (don't need to peel), red peppers, all together in a large pan, with the whole spices tied in a piece of muslin or directly.

  5. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water. This water will stop the tomatoes 'catching' at the bottom before they have a chance to release their own water.

  6. Cook until soft.

  7. Allow to cool a little. Remove spice bag.

  8. Blend tomatoes to a paste. If using loose spices, you can blend them with the tomatoes, to give a stronger, spicy flavour.

  9. Press through a wire sieve, to remove any skin and seed residue. Discard skin and seeds. You should have approximately 2 litres of smooth tomato pulp left.

  10. Place pulp in a pan, add nutmeg, chilli powder, mustard powder, bring to boil and boil briskly.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. Taste and adjust sugar, salt and chillies to suit your taste.

  14. Pour while still hot into heated sterile jars/bottles and seal them.

  15. 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.

  • For a quick version, add all ingredients, including spices, to one pan. Bring to boil and leave on simmer until tomatoes are all totally cooked and mashed. Blend and then pass through a medium fine sieve to remove bits of seeds, skins and any larger bits of whole spices. Return to pan and simmer until of required consistency. Bottle and label as normal.

  • Also see Pickle and Chutney Selection.

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