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Delicious Indian Tomato Boortha
Tasty Comfort Food
A tasty comfort food that is also healthy is not always easy to find. This vegetarian recipe comes from India and is both tasty and a comfort food and it is versatile; it can be used as either a main meal or as a side dish. As a main meal served with plain or coconut rice it is delicious. It is one of my favourite comfort foods.
When I was first married we had some Indian friends and then my father-in-law, who had worked in India as a tea-planter in the 1920s, gave me a book written in English by an Indian chef. It was intended for ex-pats living in India and I found it most interesting. This recipe for Tomato Boortha is not in the book, although some similar ones are there. This was given to me by a friend and while there are many Indian recipes that are far more complicated and expensive, the beauty of this is that it is truly delicious, nutritious, simple to prepare and economical.
Before You Begin
- If you dislike chillies it is fine to simply omit them and it will still taste great.
- Tinned tomatoes can be substituted for fresh ones, if you are in a hurry.
- It is not difficult to find organic produce to use in this recipe.
- For the best results use the best quality produce.
- If you know how to grate a fresh coconut, the flavour is far superior to desiccated coconut.
- If you use desiccated coconut, the fine variety works best in this recipe.
- The times given below are approximate; the rice can easily be cooked in this time, too.
- Traditional Indian cooks do not weigh and measure, but judge the amount of ingredients needed and with a little practice this works well with this recipe.
- 750 grams ripe tomatoes, skins removed
- 3 brown onions, chopped finely
- ½ cup coconut, desiccated or finely grated fresh
- 2 teaspoons ghee or butter, (olive oil is fine)
- 3 red, green or pickled chillies, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup dhye (natural curds), (plain yoghurt works well)
- Scald the tomatoes, slip off the skins and discard; cut into small pieces.
- Gently sauté the chopped onion and chillies in the olive oil. Cook, but do not brown the onion.
- Add the tomatoes and simmer until cooked.
- Fold in the coconut and yoghurt and warm, but do not bring to the boil.
- Season with a little salt, if desired.
- As a main dish, serve with plain steamed rice or simple coconut rice.
Plain Rice: If you do not have a rice cooker, the traditional Indian food way works well with unpolished Patna rice. For hungry folk, half a cup of rice per person is sufficient.
- Wash the rice several times in cold water to remove loose starch. Drain in a colander.
- Tip the cleaned rice into a cooking pot.
- Add boiling water so that it is twice as deep as the rice. If desired, salt may be added.
- Cover with a close-fitting lid and place on a slow fire until all the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked.
- Tip the rice into the colander and pour about half a cup of cold water over it to separate the grains.
- Drain well and place the rice in a serving dish.
Simple Coconut Rice:
For about half a kilogram (1 lb.) of rice use the following ingredients:
- 1 Litre (about 2 pints; 2 400-Ml tins is a bit less, so use a little less rice) coconut milk
- 125 g (4 oz.) ghee or butter (oil is OK, but the taste will be different)
- 4 dessertspoons chopped onions
Sauté the onion in the ghee, add rice, coconut milk and enough boiling water for the liquid to be twice the height of the rice. Salt may be added if desired. Stir, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and cook slowly, stirring occasionally until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is cooked (a grain should squash between the fingers).
How to Eat Indian Food
Traditionally, fingers are used for eating Indian food, and children love the excuse to do this. It needs a little practice, as only the fingers of the right hand are used and the food must not touch the palm of the hand. A finger-bowl with clean water and a napkin should be provided. Spoons and forks are also admissible.
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