Friday, September 21, 2012

Green tomato curry

Got green tomatoes?

I have green tomatoes.

A big bowlful, from very blighted tomato plants. And while some are destined to be fried (and yes, I will watch the movie again), the others landed up in this wonderful curry, laced with chiles and onion, and inspired by my globetrotting friend, Bonbon Oiseau, lately returned from southern India, and then corrupted by my fiddling (the curry, not Bonbon). I don't think green tomatoes are traditional in Coorg.

The sauce is wonderful. The chiles wrap it in green and the tomatoes dissolve eventually into a rich, khaki-coloured gravy. Bonbon's instruction to add vinegar at the end is key. I am a sucker for acid and here it becomes voluptuous, enhancing the richness and throwing the curry into relief.  This is one of the nicest things I've eaten in a long while.

This should feed four.

Curry Paste

1 medium onion
4 green chiles (I used Serrano)
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, sliced thinly
2 teaspoons pepper
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin

Whizz up in blender or pound fine in mortar. I whizz.


1 tablespoon coconut or unscented oil
4 chicken legs and thighs, attached if possible
2 medium onions, finely sliced
Curry paste
2 cups quartered green tomatoes
3 cardamom pods
1 cup loosely packed cilantro (stems and leaves, chopped)
3 potatoes, peeled and cut into thick slices or chunks
1 tablespoon vinegar (I used apple cider..authentically Indian)

Heat the oil and brown the chicken in it. Remove the chicken and cook the onions until turning gold - about 8 minutes. Add the wet curry paste and the cardamom pods and stir, allowing some moisture to cook off. Return the chicken to the pot and add enough water to cover. Toss in the tomatoes, cardamom and cilantro. Bring to a boil and lower to a healthy simmer. Cook, uncovered, until the liquid has reduced to a thick sauce - about two hours, stirring from time to time. Add the potatoes after an hour. The vinegar should be added about fifteen minutes before the curry has finished cooking.

We ate this with barley and a side of cumin-pan-roasted caulilfower.


  1. Sounds divine - a def8nite somethig to try as soon as i can find some green tom's... oh, i bet green yellow plum tom's would work just fine! Those i have in spades. Thanks.

  2. Hmm...sounds great,I've just bought the first asparagus of the season.Curry tomorrow, perhaps.

  3. What size pot/pan do you use? Thinking that may change the amount of water necessary to cover the chicken and therefore the consistency of the sauce? We have green tomatoes in heaps! Our patio did not get as much sun as we had hoped. Huge tomato plants and decent fruit production but most did not ripen :-/

  4. Hi Kohler, regardless of size of pan/pot just enough water to cover chicken. But to answer the question - mine is about 10" across by 4" deep.

  5. How spicy is this? I like spicy but my guy, not too much. Can I use green cherry tomatoes too? I have quite a few green tomatoes but I'm leaving them on the vine for now in hopes of them ripening. I don't know when northern VA will get its first frost.

  6. Katie - it was spicy but not half as hot as I expected - more flavor than blow-your-head-off. Take the seeds out of the chiles if you are worried. Yes, green cherries toms are fine, I think. Let me know how it goes.

  7. oh yes! nice interpretation marie, especially with the coriander. Love it. In a Goan market there was the sale of coconut vinegar almost everywhere, used for vindalohs (actually the vindaloo we eat here is sadly nothing like the vindaloo there which is vinegary and and awesomely unlike anything I have ever eaten, ANyway the coconiut vinegar I pined for was mostly sold in recycled bottles, nothing sealable and takeable on a planeable. It was very hard to not want to bring one back with me anyway but Jim reminded me of a similar incident in which I attemoted to smuggle fish sauce out of...anyway, that was a disaster as you can well imagine. but coconut vinegar--riighhhht?

  8. I'm a vegetarian, but this looks amazing - instead of using the chicken in the water to create what I'm assuming is like a stock, do you think the same effect could be done just using vegetable broth/stock instead? Also is olive oil an unscented oil?

    Thanks so much!


  9. Hey Kate - yes, vegetable stock would be absolutely fine. Keep tasting and adjusting the seasoning. Perhaps you could use parsnips instead of chicken? A good foil for the tomatoes....

    Olive oil is fine, but would qualify as scented. Unscented would be coconut oil, canola, grape seed, and vegetable oils...


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