Using Tomatoes in Indian Cooking
Tomatoes are the edible fruits of a plant from the nightshade family called Solanum lycopersicum. It originated in South America and apparently was first used as a food source in Mexico. The tomato is consumed in many ways from raw in salads, as an ingredient in dishes, sauces, and drinks.
There are about 7500 varieties of tomatoes. These are separated into divided into categories depending on size and shape.
Types of Tomato
Slicing or globe
These are the more commercially available tomatoes, used for processing and eating.
These are big and bulbous shaped usually used to make sandwiches, because they have a thin skin, and shorter shelf life they are not very practical for commercial uses.
Shaped like large strawberries they can be as big as the beefsteak variety.
Also called paste tomatoes are an oblong shape as they are bred to have a higher solid content for use in tomato sauce and pastes. Pear tomatoes are pear-shaped, and like the San Marzano types these give a richer paste.
These are small, sweet and round, often eaten whole in salads. They are not great for sauces as the skin is touch and a lot of it.
A new variety which is small like grapes but has a fuller solid mass then cherry tomatoes (more like plumb tomatoes), again used in salads.
These are known for being sweet, juicy, low acidity, with a lack of mealiness. They com in-between cherry and plum tomatoes.
Tomatoes are essential in creating the masala base sauce needed for the tangy sweetness of the sauce.
I always use whole plum tinned tomatoes but will also use finely chopped or blended fresh tomatoes (including skin and seeds) for vegetable and lentil dhal dishes.
I don't like to use pasata as it's too concentrated for an Indian masala sauces and changes the flavour of the final dish significantly. But I do like to use tomato puree for some dishes to get a bright red sauce.Back to Cooking guides