Monday, 5 September 2011

Recipe - Spiced Tomato Soup

But not tomato soup how you know it. Its proper name is 'tomato-r tok' which translates to 'the sour of the tomato'. And it's Bengali peasant food. I hate 'posh' Bengali food. I find anything that you'd serve at a dinner party meat-heavy, ghee-heavy and an effort to eat. Home food on the other hand has lots of vegetables and fish and it's all red and yellow and green because of all the turmeric and chilli. And when there is meat, it's cooked in a very different style to Bengali 'gourmet'. Dinner-party chicken ends up looking pallid and anaemic and the brown of lamb doesn't come out in the strong way that gives the sauce a nice colour. Home-style chicken on the other hand comes out looking vibrant and appetising. It's also much tastier yet much simpler to cook. S'good.
Tomato-r Tok
1 large onion (preferable red), very finely sliced
1 tbsp heaped spoonful of turmeric
1 tbsp heaped spoonful of chilli powder
A punnet of plum tomatoes (325g), quartered (other kinds of tomatoes are usually used in Bangladesh and my parents usually use a can of chopped tomatoes but I find plum or cherry gives the best taste)
1 large potato cut into slightly larger than bite-sized pieces
Salt and sugar
Fry the onion lightly in vegetable oil until it's translucent.
When translucent, add the spices and fry for another minute or so whilst mixing it into the onion.
Add the tomatoes and potato and mix everything together so it's all coated in the spice.
Season with salt and sugar to taste. I used about 1tsp of salt and 0.25tsp of sugar. You should only add a little sugar to take the edge off the tartness of the tomatoes. You'll need to use more sugar if you're making it with canned tomatoes because that doesn't have the natural sweetness of cherry/plum tomatoes.
Add enough water to half-cover the mixture.
Cover and cook on a low heat until the potatoes are soft (around 15 minutes)
I probably would've stirred in some chopped fresh coriander if we'd had any too. Also I totally forgot that our house ALWAYS has chillis until the end where I chopped a green finger chilli in. I usually fry the chillis with the onion. I think from now on I will always chop fresh chilli into the end, it's better that way. In terms of yield, it's difficult to say how many this would feed. Bengali style of eating involves having a vat of rice and lots of little dishes and you eat a little rice with a little of each dish that you want. Then at the end people tend to finish with a little dahl and rice. Except my parents do this tomato soupy stuff with rice at the end too sometimes. But I usually cook this for lunch. Just this with rice would probably feed 2-3 people. I had mine with my favourite accompaniment for it, the much mentioned 'mother's garlicky spinach' and rice.

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