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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

How Green is my tomato

Cooking with Green Tomatoes

Except for Salsa Verde, Green tomatoes, or tomatillos as they are known in Spanish, are something I had never tried before. I passed the pale green, fresh looking tomatoes in the grocery aisle and thought, perhaps I can do something with these in the Indian style.
To describe Green tomatoes, I would say-think red tomatoes but firmer and sourer and without the sweetness. For those of us who happen to enjoy sourness, they are very well suited to the Indian style cooking. As I looked up recipes, I found that they can be really versatile and you can make a number of relishes, chutneys or vegetable side dishes using these. I tried the following recipes with very nice results and what started as an experiment has quickly become a family favourite.


Once of the best ways to elevate any vegetable dish to something exotic is to stuff it. There are many different combinations you can try - one thing I would like perhaps to try in the future is to stuff tomatoes with couscous - mediterrenean style. Meanwhile, on a less ambitious note, this is my recipe for stuffed green tomatoes.


5 medium size green tomatoes
1/3 cup gram flour (besan)
2 tablespoon oil
1/3 tsp mango powder (amchoor)
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
a pinch hing ( asafoetida)
coriander leaves for garnishing


Slice off the tops of the tomatoes and scoop out the insides of the tomato to create a hollow for the stuffing. You can scoop about 3/4 of the pulp out using a spoon. Keep this pulp aside and try to chop it so that it is almost like a paste.

Heat a pan and roast the gram flour till is turns slightly brown. Take it off the stove and mix chilli powder, fennel, mango powder and salt to taste.
Stuff this dry mixture into the tomato cups, place the cap on and secure with tooth picks.

Heat oil in a flat pan, add mustard and cumin seeds. When the seeds splutter, add the hing and the tomato pulp and stir. Stir in salt, chili powder and turmeric and cook for 3-4 minutes till the pulp is soft and mushy and the oil separates. Place the tomatoes on the pan and cover and steam on a medium flame. The tomatoes will cook and the water from the tomatoes will seep into the dry stuffing.
Season with coriander leaves and serve.


This is a very simple stir fry that can spice up any meal either as a side to roti or rice. This has a really sharp, tangy taste that brings your taste buds alive and it works especially well when you want to bring a spicy-sour element to an otherwise ordinary meal.


3-4 green tomatoes
1/3 tsp. red chilli powder
1/2 tsp. dhana-jeera powder ( cumin-coriander powder)
3-4 pinches turmeric powder
2-3 pieces asafoetida
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp. each cumin & mustard seeds
2-3 tablespoons sev ( deep-fried gram flour noodles )

Chop the tomatoes into large chunks.
Heat oil, and cackle the mustard and cumin seeds. Add the spices and stir for a few seconds. The add the tomato chunk and salt and sugar and cook for a very little while, till they are softened but not mushy.
Top with sev just before serving.
With a few slight tweaks, the above recipe becomes an excellent chutney, to be served with dosa or idli.
Omit the sev, and the mustard and cumin seeds and follow the same procedure as above. Then grind the mixture after the cooking process and you have a quick and easy chutney.

Foot Notes - It is always exciting to try a new vegetable and realize that you are on to something. Since these tomatoes cook very fast, you never need to keep them on the stove for too long.
Also, since they taste so sour and sharp, besan is a perfect foil for their sourness in both the above recipes.


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