With the prices of tomatoes skyrocketing to Rs 160 per kg in the retail market because of heavy rainfall, it is natural for people to look for a replacement for the same. Skipping the use of tomatoes may be a natural choice. But then for people who are used to the taste of tomato, it is difficult to skip totally. Senguttuvan Subburathina, one of the contestants of MasterChef Tamil - Season 1 tells DT Next, “My natural choice would be canned tomato puree or puree in tetra packs. But then, they are not pure or free from additives. To keep the puree from putrefying, artificial additives are added which are not good for health. My daughter who has done her PG in Nutrition and Dietetics had warned me about this.”
In many houses, tomatoes are cut, sundried and kept stored. These can be used either directly or boiled in hot water and used as a replacement for fresh tomatoes. The homechef says that there are natural substitutes that one can explore for the same taste and texture. “Kokum fruit rind – you can immerse this in warm water for two hours and the water can be used in place of tomato puree. Red bell peppers can easily replace tomato in chutney. The colour and taste will match nearly the same. Tomatoes are one of the main ingredients in dal and sambar. You can use raw mango instead, where the tartness (sharp sour taste) comes out prominently. Amla and tamarind can be a good replacement too. When you combine these in bottle gourd koottu, the absence of tomato is not noticed,” shares the home chef. Senguttuvan is someone who prefers a hot soup for breakfast during this rainy season. “My preferred soup during rain is tomato soup. Now that I have to look for an alternative, I made pumpkin soup. Pumpkin, when steam cooked and made puree, is quite thick and can substitute for tomatoes,” he adds.
Senguttuvan Subburathina; Chef Dheena
Chef Deena from the city opines, “Tomatoes are an important ingredient in many of our recipes and are used generously. We cannot think of any recipe without it, but with the price hike of tomatoes reaching more than apples and expected to remain till this rainy season is over, we could do with some substitutes for this favourite. For some of us, dosas and idlis are incomplete without tomato chutney. But if you do some research, you can make other tasty chutneys that will go well with dosa, idli, uthappam. You can also try other breakfast options like paruppu adai, lemon poha, aloo paratha, stuffed poori and puttu. These are healthy and wholesome as well.”
According to him, amla, lemon and tamarind can be good substitutes for tomatoes. “Amla has a lot of benefits like building immunity and metabolism. It also helps in reducing bad cholesterol. For lunch, instead of puli kuzhambu or sambar that need tomatoes, you can try making onion curry or aviyal,” adds the chef.
Recipes by Senguttuvan Subburathina
Preparation: Two pax
Pumpkin: 300 gm| Onion: 1, chopped| Garlic pods: 3-4| Ginger: 1/2 inch| Green Chillies: 1, Chopped
Oil: as needed
- Wash pumpkin and remove seeds and pulp (You can dry and use the seeds to top up your salads)
- Peel the skin of the pumpkin and cut it into small cubes
- Pressure cook with a cup of water for two whistles. Keep aside to cool
- Take oil in a pan and saute chopped onion, garlic pods, ginger and chopped green chillies
- Add the sauteed items and cooked pumpkin to a blender and blend finely
- Add water (veg stock) to the desired consistency and boil for 3-5 mins
- Serve the soup with pepper and salt. You can also sprinkle some Italian herbs
Raw Mango Dal
Oil: 2 tsp| Mustard: 1/2 tsp| Gram dal: 1 tsp| Urad dal: 1 tsp| Curry leaves: 1 sprig
Green chillies: 2, chopped| Garlic: 4-5 pods, chopped| Onion: 1, chopped| Asafatida: 1/2 tsp|
Toor dal or green gram dal: 1/2 cup| Raw Mango: one medium size, cut to small cubes|
Turmeric powder: 1/2 tsp| Water: as needed| Salt: to taste
- Heat oil in a pressure cooker. Add mustard, gram dal, urad dal and curry leaves. Add chopped green chillies, garlic and onion. Saute for a minute. Add asafetida.
- Wash dal (toor dal or green gram) and transfer to the cooker. Add a cup of water, skin peeled raw mango, turmeric powder and salt to taste.
- Close the lid and cook for four whistles
- After the pressure comes down, open and check for salt. Gently mash the dal and mango
- Garnish with finely chopped cilantro
- Raw mango dal can be consumed with hot rice and ghee or with Indian bread