I recently spoke with the Chicago Tribune about tomatillos. I  got a ton of email asking about the recipe for the cheesecake and chutney that I had mentioned in the article. Here you go:

Paula Nino- Cheesecake

SAVORY MINI CHEESECAKES with tomatillo Chutney (from Modern Spice by Monica Bhide)

Makes 30 pieces
Prep/Cook time: 25 minutes


Non-stick cooking spray
30 mini phyllo shells
One (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 medium egg
5 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons Red Pepper and Green Tomatillo Chutney


1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Arrange the shells on the sheet.

2. Whisk together the cheese, egg
and sour cream until well combined.

3. Place 2 teaspoons of the mixture into each shell. Bake for 15 minutes or until the filling is firm and set.

4. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.

5. Top each cheesecake with about ¼ teaspoon of the chutney and serve.


Makes 1 generous cup
Prep/Cook time: 40 minutes


2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 or 6 fresh curry leaves
Pinch of asafetida
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon onion seeds
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
4 whole dried red chilies
2 cups diced green tomatillos (10 to 12 medium tomatillos)
1 cup seeded and diced red bell pepper (1 medium pepper)
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
¼ cup sugar
½ cup water
¼ cup white vinegar or fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon table salt


1. In a medium skillet, heat the vegetable oil. When the oil begins to simmer, add the curry leaves, asafetida, and the cumin, fenugreek, and fennel, onion, and mustard seeds. As soon as the seeds begin to sizzle, about 1 minute, add the chilies, tomatillos, bell pepper, ginger and sugar. Mix well.

2. Add the water and vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and c

ontinue on a gentle simmer for about 35 minutes, until the tomatillos and bell pepper are soft and the liquid is syrupy.

3. Add the salt. Mix well.

4. Remove from the heat. Remove the whole chilies, if you like. Transfer to a container and cool.

5. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Note: Be careful when using fenugreek seeds. They add bitterness to a dish, so a little goes a long way. Also, they are not substitutes for fresh fenugreek or dried fenugreek leaves; the flavors and textures are miles apart.

*Photo by Rachael Lee Coleman

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  1. Wow! What a simple and delicious appetizer. I’ve saved this one!

  2. I’ve been looking for something like this for a gathering I’m going to next week. Can’t wait to try it!

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