FARM:Shop, Fork Magazine and the super spicy tomato chutney of dreams

I’ve started helping out at Farm:Shop in Dalston. It’s an exciting and unique project where we’re seeing how much produce we can grow in a disused shop front. And by this, I do mean quite literally, every inch of it. We have aquaponic tanks of fish which feed into lettuce and chard, jars of kefir bacteria (for ginger beer), chickens on the roof and a polytunnel in the back yard, in which we’re planning to plant a cinema screen in amongst the greenery. We’re also thinking of getting a couple of pigs and there will definitely be a great deal of barbecuing if it ever decides to woman-up and stop being winter. I’ll be supplying various gastro-goodies and helping out over the coming months in the café, which officially launches later on this month. I’ve also written a piece for Fork Magazine about what we’re doing, so look out for it in issue 17.

Having already tackled a glut or three of basil  by blitzing up some stonkingly fragrant pesto  (Mehmet’s Electrical Embassy olive oil, organic parmesan, pine nuts, Farm:Shop unsprayed basil, organic Cornish sea salt and garlic); I’ve turned my hand to doctoring my aunt’s panch phoran tomato chutney (or “chatni” as she calls it). This is no ordinary chutters, mind you. This is mustardy, garlicky sweet and uber tangy all at once – this truly is the tomato chutney of dreams. Stirred into a wobbly glop of Hellmans it makes an addictive little dip for branches of freshly steamed broccoli.

Spicy tomato chutney

600g tomatoes

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

2 cardamom  pods

2 red chillies

1 dsp mustard oil

1 dsp veg/rice bran oil

1 dsp mustard seeds

2 tsp nigella seeds

1 onion

3 cloves garlic

2 inches ginger, peeled

10 dsp red wine vinegar

10 dsp red wine

110g Demerara sugar

1 heaped tsp salt

380ml jam jar/kilner, washed in very hot soapy water and placed in a hot oven for 15 minutes.


  • Sprinkle the cumin, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cardamom pods and chillies in a dry frying pan and roast until very fragrant but not burnt. You’ll need to watch them like a hawk as they do “turn” quite suddenly.
  • Pulverise the garlic, ginger and onion in food processor.
  • Pick out the chillies, and tip the spices into a pestle and mortar or spice grinder and grind to dust.
  • Heat the mustard and vegetable oils in a saucepan, and once hot add the nigella and mustard seeds. Once they spit and crackle, add the ground spices and onion mixture and cook over a medium heat for a few minutes.
  • Blitz the tomatoes and roasted chillies to a rough pulp. Add this to the pan along with the sugar, vinegar, wine and salt. Stir well and simmer on the gentlest heat for 3-4 hours.


  1. simon

    excellent stuff R, fingers in many pies! – will keep an eye out for your article.

  2. Sounds great Reg – interested to hear how your instore crops turn out.

  3. This sounds like such a great, unique idea – I would love to get involved! How often do you help out at the shop?

    • gastrogeek

      Fantastic news Hanna! you should just pop in and get involved-always on the look out for long term volunteers. I´m just doing one day a week, but it´s entirely up to you, would be lovely to see you again!

      • Awesome – just wrote an email and hopefully I’ll be able to get involved soon – live just around the corner as well so couldn’t be better. Much excited about seeing the place soon!

    • gastrogeek

      Hanna this is fantastic news 🙂 There’s going to be a bit of a party in the polytunnel on Saturday 19th March if you’re around? Email me at if you’re up for it. Should be mucho fun!

  4. This sounds excellent! Will have to pop along.

    And glad to see another fan of the Mehmet’s olive oil. It is truly wondrous stuff.

  5. gastrogeek

    isn´t that stuff just the best¿ I bought a jar of his pickled wild caper leaves the other day, they were pretty special too(As you can see, I´m typing this using a Spanish keyboard)It would be lovely to see you, please do pop in next time you´re in the area.

  6. Can’t wait to visit the shop – sounds like a pretty special place x

  7. we’ll have to go down together v.soon my dear X

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