Category Archives: tomatoes

Mouth-watering Mushroom, Kale & Tofu Scramble & Grits

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Hello! I’m back to the Indian-inspired cooking for a bit. It’s “cold” here in S. Cali this week requiring some spicy comfort food. Yes, it’s in the high 50’s to low 60’s, but what can I say? This morning I threw together a quick tofu scramble while the grits were gurgling on the stove. I love mushrooms and when I’m feeling a bit under the weather they always seem to bring me back around. For some extra nutrients, I threw in kale and tomatoes. The tomatoes were just cooked enough to be soft but still pop a little in your mouth. Hence, the “mouth-watering” description. I ate these served over yellow corn grits with a few dashes of super-spicy Marie Sharp’s Belizean Heat. I think grits have to be eaten with a bit of hot sauce. Just goes hand-in-hand.

This is an easier recipe than my scrambled tofu with spinach since I don’t use onion and garlic. It also takes less time since you don’t have to wait on the onion to cook. The only thing you have to mess with is chopping the mushrooms (and kale if using fresh). I have a bag of organic kale in the freezer. It’s handy for quick meals where I really need some greens. The kale cooks faster than fresh since the ice crystals have broken it down a bit.

If you don’t have all of the spices, run out to the store and get them! What are you waiting for? Just kidding… you can add whatever you like – just don’t use too much of any one thing so you keep a balanced flavor. Of course, you could go the Mexican or Italian route with the spices too. Tomorrow I will use the leftovers to make tacos with corn tortillas. Just throw on some spicy salsa, fresh shredded cabbage and another nice, healthy meal is ready! Here is today’s version of the tofu scramble…

Mouth-watering Mushroom, Kale & Tofu Scramble & Grits (serves 2 – 4)

1 pkg. firm tofu (press out the water for 10 – 15 minutes)
1 lb. of portabella or other mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 cup of kale, frozen or washed and chopped
2+ tbsp oil
2 tsp of black salt (or to taste)
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
2 tsp garam masala (optional)
1 cup cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
hot sauce to taste
3 cups cooked grits

Heat up your trusty cast-iron skillet (or other large skillet) to medium. When it’s really hot, add your mushrooms and let them cook for a minute or two. Stir and add a pinch of salt over them. As they start cooking down and releasing their water, you can add the oil and kale. After about two minutes, crumble the tofu with your hands into the skillet. There should be bite-sized pieces and some smaller pieces. Add a bit more oil if necessary to keep it from sticking. Stir and then add all of the spices and stir again to get the spices incorporated. Reduce the heat to low. Allow to cook, stirring only once in while so that the tofu starts to get slightly brown and crispy in spots. After approximately 5 – 8 minutes, make a little space in the middle of the pan by moving everything else to the sides. Toss the tomatoes in the center and let everything cook for about 3 minutes. Stir and turn off the heat. Keep in mind that cooking times will vary depending on the type of tofu you are using, how much water is in it, if you are using cast-iron or not… Spoon over hot grits. Serve with fresh cilantro and hot sauce.

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Spicy & Tangy Tomato Curry (Baghara Tomate)

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Spicy & Tangy Tomato Curry (Baghara Tomate)

Hello & Welcome to This Spicy Life…

Today’s recipe is another from my dear Mother-In-Law. It is a delicious coconut-based curry that is rich in flavor with a spicy bite. This would be a good entrée to serve to a small dinner party along with a mild dal, rice and a simple salad.

Baghara Tomate can be made with cherry tomatoes or any other small tomatoes such as pear. You can also substitute baby eggplants for the tomato (just add about 1/2 tsp more of the tamarind paste to the sauce. Slit the eggplants with a deep “x” on the bottom ends and cook for 15 minutes or longer until tender.) Either vegetable goes extremely well with this curry.

There are several specialty ingredients that may require you to take a trip to an Indian grocery store. If you don’t have one, try a natural foods store or other ethnic grocery. This is an easy recipe but it does have several steps. Just take a deep breath and enjoy the process. You will not be disappointed in the results!

Baghara Tomate

Serves 4

  • 24 oz. of cherry tomatoes (or other small tomatoes)
  • 3/4 cup grated coconut (unsweetened dried or fresh or frozen)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds (or 1 tbsp coriander seed powder)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp chana dal (split yellow chickpeas)
  • t tbsp peanuts, raw if possible and unseasoned
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds (raw hulled or unhulled)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2″ ginger, fresh
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 4 tsp oil
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 6 – 10 curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp chili powder (or to taste)
  • pinch of turmeric powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp tamarind paste
  • salt to taste
Method:
  1. Rinse the tomatoes in water. To each tomato, gently stick in toothpick or the tip of a knife. This will prevent the tomatoes from bursting while cooking. Set aside.
  2. Roast the following ingredients separately in a dry cast iron or other pan until slightly browned, setting aside until all of the ingredients are roasted: grated coconut, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, chana dal, peanuts, sesame seeds. Place all of these in the blender or grinder container.
  3. Fry the onions in the same roasting pan. Use a little oil over medium heat, adding the onions when the oil is hot. Stir and cook until they turn translucent. Add to the blender.
  4. Add the ginger and garlic to the blender. Blend everything to a smooth paste, adding a bit of water if necessary. Set aside this masala.
  5. In a large sauce pan, heat 2 tsp oil over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds start to pop, add the blended coconut masala. Stir at once and reduce the heat to medium low.
  6. Stir in the chili powder, turmeric and tamarind paste and salt. Add enough water (if necessary) to make a thin gravy.
  7. Now add the tomatoes and stir gently. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. The gravy should thicken slightly, but you can adjust the gravy by simmering longer to make it thicker or adding water to thin it out.
  8. Serve with rice and dal. Enjoy!

Not-Your-Everyday-Corn-On-The-Cob

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Hello! Welcome to This Spicy Life…

Corn, beautiful corn. I just love it when the markets start selling those dark green husks of goodness. When I have fresh corn-on-the-cob, I love to make this curry recipe from my Sister-In-Law. It’s so different from the corn I ate as a kid growing up in Nebraska. Every summer we would get our overdose of delicious boiled corn with butter and salt. Besides the recipe below, corn can be made in so many ways. It can be grilled in the husk with only lemon and salt (and maybe some chili powder) squeezed over the steaming and charred cobs or as a salad sautéed with spices, just to name a few.

This recipe could also be adapted to a Mexican or Italian menu by substituting herbs and/or spices from those regions. You can easily simmer the corn cobs in a nice tomato salsa or a hearty pasta sauce to suit your menu.

The tomato sauce originates with my Mother-In-Law. A few summers ago she was visiting and I had a bumper crop of tomatoes from the garden. We made a huge batch of this sauce and put it in the freezer for future use. It’s a delicious, simple sauce that can be used as a base for many types of curry. It’s best made with fresh tomatoes, but I often make it in the winter using canned tomatoes. 

Corn-on-the-Cob with Spicy Tomato Curry

  • 3 ears of corn (white or yellow)
  • 2+ tsp oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 cup of onions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder (optional or to taste)
  • 3 cups of tomatoes, finely chopped (fresh preferred or canned)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped (or to taste)
Method:
  1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. (You can use a deep saute pan or a saucepan, but the corn must fit in the pan in a single layer.)
  2. Add the cumin seeds and allow to cook for about 30 seconds until they start to turn just a little darker brown.
  3. Stir in the onions and allow to cook until they become translucent and start to brown on the edges.
  4. Add the turmeric powder and chili powder and stir. Allow to cook for about 30 seconds.
  5. Add the tomatoes and salt and turn heat to medium-low. Stir occasionally while allowing to cook down. This could take anywhere from 7 to 15 minutes depending on the juiciness of the tomatoes. Canned tomatoes will probably take slightly longer. If the tomato mixture becomes too dry before it’s cooked down, add about 1/4 cup of water at a time. Cook until the mixture is relatively smooth. There isn’t a lot of oil in this recipe so you won’t see the oil separate.
  6. While the tomato sauce is simmering, strip the corn cobs of their husks, removing all of the silks. You can wash under running water to help remove the silks but it’s okay if a few remain. Break the cobs into 2 or 3 pieces. Set aside.
  7. Taste the tomato sauce to see if you have added enough salt and adjust if necessary.
  8. Stir in the fresh ginger and enough water to make the sauce slightly thin, similar to a thick soup consistency.
  9. Add the corn pieces and stir to cover with the sauce. Cover the pan and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes. The corn won’t sink in the sauce so you will need to turn the pieces every few minutes to make sure all sides are cooked. You can also add a bit of water as needed to the sauce if it becomes too thick before the corn is cooked through. At the end of cooking, however, the sauce should be cooked down to a thick curry, so be careful of adding too much water or adding water too late.
  10. When the corn is cooked through, remove from the heat. If the sauce is too thin (see step above), take the corn out of the sauce and cook the sauce down to a thicker consistency. Then put the corn pieces back in the sauce before serving.
  11. Serve with rice or as a side dish.  

Simple Tomato Curry with Aloo Parantha

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Simple Tomato Curry with Aloo Parantha

Hello & Welcome to This Spicy Life…

Today I’m featuring one of my husband’s recipes. He has adapted it over the years, though it is probably similar to many tomato curry recipes out there. His is much simpler and is definitely my favorite! This is best made with fresh, homegrown tomatoes but can also be made with store-bought tomatoes. This just might inspire you to go and plant one or two tomato plants this summer!

We usually eat tomato curry with aloo parathas. It is equally delicious with mooli (daikon) parathas or even rice. The combination makes for a simple, home-style lunch or dinner. I’ll post the aloo paratha next week.

Notes: You may want to remove the tomato skins before cooking if you are serving this for guests or if the tomatoes have very thick skins. Tomato skins actually contain fiber and nutrients so I normally don’t remove the skins. To remove the skins: bring a pot of water to boil. Slash a shallow “X” in the bottom of each tomato. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for a minute. Remove the tomatoes to cold water. Slip off the skins.

Simple Tomato Curry

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 6 large ripe tomatoes (about 4 cups chopped), washed and cut into pieces (approx. 1″ x 1″)
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 green chilis, finely chopped (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • pinch of sugar (optional)
Method:
  1. Heat the oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Add the cumin seeds and cook for about 1 minute. They will start to turn darker brown.
  3. Stir in the onions and allow to cook until they start to turn translucent.
  4. Stir in the garlic and green chilis and cook until the garlic is fragrant and the onions start to turn brown at the edges.
  5. Add the tomatoes, salt and sugar (if using) and turn the heat to low. Cook for 5 minutes or until the tomatoes just start to break down, but still hold their shape.
  6. Taste for salt and serve with parathas or rice.