Monday, September 15, 2014

Meatless Monday Tomato Saaru ( Tomato Soup)

Tomato saaru is ubiquitous in Southern India. Any meal is incomplete if there is no saaru or rasam. There are several methods to making this; with cooked dal(Pegion-peas lentil), with rasam powder( a spice mix with powdered lentil in it used for this soup). My favorite though is this simple humble saaru that my mother and my mother-in-law makes. There is no grinding involved, no cooked lentils to be added, no rasam powder added. can be made anytime, anywhere.For this particular recipe, I like the way my mother-in-law makes it. Tangy, flavorful saaru; comfort food for me. Every time she visits us, I specifically request her to make this for us. This is her recipe.

Servings: 4-6 ( 1 cup per person)


Tomatoes: 2 red ripe tomatoes
Water: 1 liter
Green chillies: 3-4, slit ( adjust based on your spice level and that of the chillies being used)
Jagger or brown sugar: 1 tsp
Salt: as needed.
Tamarind: marble sized if using dried, 1/4 tsp if using pulp.

For tempering:
Coconut oil/ghee: 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
Jeera( cumin seeds): 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves: 1 sprig

For garnishing:( optional)

Cilantro: 1 tbsp , chopped.


Boil whole tomatoes in 1 liter water in a pot until the tomatoes are half-cooked.

Remove the tomatoes out, peel it. ( Be careful as it will be very hot! ) You could use a fork and knife to peel it or immerse in cold water to cook it down a little.Now using your hands or a potato masher, mash it in a bowl.

Add the mashed tomatoes back to the pot with slit green chillies, salt, tamarind and jaggery. Boil it until the water reduces to 3/4th the amount you started with.

Turn off the flame.


Heat oil/ ghee in a small pan. Add the cumin seeds and then the mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds splutter, turn off the flame and add the curry leaves.

Add this to the pot above.

Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro.

Serve it with hot steamed rice or just drink it in a cup!


Cooking make easy:

If you don't have the time for the boiling, peeling and mashing of the tomatoes, you could skip this step entirely and just add chopped tomatoes to begin with. Add all the other ingredients with the tomatoes except those listed under tempering and garnishing. The rest of the process remains the same. I must caution you that this is precisely the difference between my mother's and my mother-in-law's method of making saaru and like I have stated earlier, I find my mother-in-laws saaru more tasty.

This could also be made using tomato purée or tomato paste. But nothing beats the flavor of fresh tomatoes!

Tip for healthy living:

Tomatoes are not only bursting with flavor, they are a great source of  Lycopene which is known to have immense antioxidant properties.They are supposed to be great anti-inflammatory agents.

Tomatoes belong to the night-shade family and therefore people with arthritis should avoid eating tomatoes as they are known to aggravate joint pain.


Food for thought:

Research is what I am doing when I don't know what I am doing. Wernher von Braun