from one generation to the next
I have a number of Indian Cookbooks on my shelves, all are well thumbed and splattered with spices. “Tasting India” by Christine Manfield is the latest addition. It’s a large format coffee table book about travelling and eating in India and sadly out of print. I was fortunate to find an “as new” edition secondhand.
Leafing through the pages of my new book immersed me in vivid deja vu experience. A number of the destinations, restaurants, cooks and foods Manfield talks about in her book I too have enjoyed. I feel as if I’ve been gifted a three dimensional souvenir of India, the ability to transport myself through time and space with flavour.
When I toured Rajasthan I experienced a magical couple of days at Chhatra Sagar, a tented camp set up on the dam wall of a bird sanctuary. I rode astride a camel in a festive procession accompanied by traditional folk music to the nearby village of Nimaj where the local people welcomed us with great warmth and inclusion. My photo collection from that day is monumental in size and quality, then to top it off that night we were served a truly noteworthy dish of spiced tomatoes. That tomato dish, eaten 10 years ago was so good I’ve never forgotten the taste. It completely obliterating any memory of what we had in accompaniment. You can imagine my delight I discovered Manfield’s inclusion of that very same tomato recipe in her book.
I’ve made this a number of times in the past couple of months, it’s quick, simple and very direct. I still think it’s an exciting dish, however I’ve tweaked the recipe just a little to better suit my palate. I wanted more of a sour element than the original recipe delivered so I’ve included just a small amount of tamarind paste, an ingredient widely used in Rajasthan.
Sweet and Sour Spiced Tomatoes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons pungent mustard oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon ground coriander seed
1 teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
6 ripe roma tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
Heat the oils together in a large pan then add the cumin and mustard seeds and fry until they pop and splatter.
Add the turmeric, coriander seed and chilli and sizzle for 30 seconds.
Add the tomatoes and toss to coat them in the spicy oil.
Add the water, ginger, sugar, salt and tamarind.
Bring the pan to the boil and cook fro 1 minutes.
Transfer the tomatoes to a serving dish with a slotted spoon then turn the heat to high under the pan and reduce the sauce by half.
Spoon the reduced sauce over the tomatoes and serve immediately.
Serves 4 with other dishes.