Sunday, April 3, 2011

Tomato Fry

Tomato Fry is something I ate a lot as a kid. It followed no definite recipe: it could be tomatoes in any form -sauted with onions and green chillies in coconut oil; cooked down to a pulp and seasoned with spluttering mustard seeds and curry leaves; roasted and ground it into a chutney with ginger and garlic - but however they were prepared, they all made their appearance at the table as the humble tomato fry. It was my mom's ultimate go-to dish -it was something to be whipped up quickly after a late day at work, it was the afterthought addition to the menu when the prepared portions seemed inadequate for the dinner party, and it was the last resort when the vegetable basket was empty of real vegetables, and only the ubiquitous onion and tomato remained. There was always something apologetic about it, it was always something that we had to make do with, and (despite the fact that it was almost always quite tasty) it was always met with with an air of resignation at the table as well.

And then one day, mom was away and it was Dad's turn to cook. There is a definite buzz of excitement in the air. If mom's forte was comfortable, familiar, home-style cooking, then dad's was exotic, high-end, gourmet fare. He rarely entered the kitchen, but when he did, it was akin to a carnival. Every pot, pan, spoon and ladle would be out, every burner in the stove would be blazing,the air thick with floating bits of onion and garlic peel, the kitchen sweltering and smoky, the pressure cooker shrieking, thw exhaust fan rattling in the back ground and my brother and I fidgeting around, long past our dinnertime, fully sure that the feast at the end of it all would be well worth the wait. So, you can imagine our faces when, that particular day, he announced that the special for the night was going to be... Tomato Fry!

There was no impatient scurrying around or sneaking into the kitchen for tidbits that day. We went about our chores listlessly, occasionally throwing him dirty looks which plainly said, "You too, Brutus!". Until we were summoned for dinner and and he placed a serving dish at the centre of the table, lifting its lid with a flourish. This was no lumpen mass of half-cooked tomatoes. On the plate were juicy slices of tomatoes, either side roasted to perfection, laid out on a delicious bed of caramelized onions. There was a smattering of finely chopped coriander on top, and the earthy smell of cumin and garam masala wafted from the dish. He had knocked it out of the park. Just the memory of it makes my mouth water now. Safe to say, tomato fry was never the same at our place again.

I tried recreating the dish at home yesterday. And even though true masterpieces can never be replicated in full measure, what can we do but try. And try some more. ;)

Tomato Fry

1 tablespoon oil
2 medium onions
3 plum tomatoes
1  teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
3/4 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon aamchur
1/2 teaspoon sugar
salt to taste
1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves

1. Halve onions and chop into thin long slices. Wash tomatoes and cut into thick slices (apprx. 1/3 inch thickness)

2. Mix the various ground spices together and keep aside

2.Heat oil in  a flat-bottomed pan (i used my trusty cast iron skillet, but any heavy bottomed pan can be used!) and add add chopped onions. Saute until its cooked and caramelized

3. Add the ginger garlic paste and 3/4th of the prepared spice mix. Saute under low fire until cooked.

4.Remove the onions from the pan and keep aside. Deglaze the pan with another teaspoon of oil if required, and lay the slices of tomato face-down on the pan. Sprinkle half of what is leftover of the spice mix evenly over the tomatoes.

5 After a minute or two, flip the tomatoes so that the other side can get roasted as well. Sprinkle the rest of the spice mix on the tomatoes.

6. Arrange the confit-ed onions on a plate and layer the tomatoes on top of it. Garnish with chopped coriander.

Enjoy! :)


  1. I think dad's all over the world or at least in India possess this quality of being excellent sporadic cooks. My Dad is a gem at making eggs and salads!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I honestly love your style of writing, cannot wait to read more!

  2. I know! My dad is the best cook I know- he can make the most boring sabzis seem like gourmet fare! :)

    Thank you so much for dropping by. And do come back for more! :) I can do with ALL the motivation i can possibly muster right now! :)

  3. Dad cook only few dishes, but they are always finger licking tasty. Thanks for visiting my blog. You write really well and tomato fry is delicious.

  4. @ Swathi: Thanks for the comment, and for following me as well! :) I'm new to this, and this gesture means the world to me! :)

  5. Tomato fry was/is my favourite and used to always pester mom to make this. Although hers is a simple preparation , I still never seem to get her authentic taste. Guess that's what moms are known best for !