Tomatoes are widely used in Indian cuisine, bringing a tangy and flavorful element to many dishes. Tomatoes play a pivotal role in Indian cooking, serving as a flavor enhancer, base for gravies and sauces, and color enhancer. Their tangy and slightly sweet taste adds a delightful acidity that balances and complements the spices used in Indian cuisine.
Tomatoes act as a thickening agent, releasing natural pectin when cooked, providing a luscious texture to gravies. They are used in various forms – fresh, pureed, chopped, or sun-dried – in regional specialties across the country. Tomatoes also help balance the heat of spices, creating a harmonious taste profile.
Whether used in tomato-based curries of North India, tangy rasams of South India, or chutneys and salsas, tomatoes bring depth, freshness, and vibrant color to the diverse array of Indian dishes. Here are 20 popular tomato-based dishes from India:
- Tomato Curry (Tamatar Curry): A simple and flavorful curry made with ripe tomatoes, onions, and spices like cumin, turmeric, and garam masala. It is often served with rice or Indian bread.
- Tomato Chutney: A tangy and spicy condiment made with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and spices. It can be served as a side dish with dosa, idli, or any South Indian breakfast.
- Tomato Rice (Tomato Pulao): Fragrant rice cooked with tomatoes, onions, and spices like cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom. It’s a flavorful one-pot dish often enjoyed with raita or yogurt.
- Tomato Rasam: A comforting and tangy soup made with tomatoes, tamarind, lentils, and a blend of spices. It is typically consumed with rice or served as a soup.
- Tomato Soup: A popular and comforting soup made with pureed tomatoes, onions, garlic, and herbs. It can be enjoyed as a starter or paired with a grilled cheese sandwich.
- Tomato and Onion Uttapam: A savory pancake made with fermented rice and lentil batter, topped with a mix of finely chopped tomatoes, onions, and green chilies. It is a popular breakfast or snack in South India.
- Tomato and Onion Salad: A refreshing salad made with sliced tomatoes, onions, cucumber, and fresh herbs. It is typically seasoned with lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
- Tomato Biryani: Fragrant basmati rice cooked with tomatoes, spices, and vegetables. It is a flavorful and aromatic rice dish often served with raita or yogurt.
- Tomato and Lentil Soup (Tomato Dal): A hearty lentil soup made with red lentils, tomatoes, onions, and spices. It is a nutritious dish served with rice or Indian bread.
- Tomato Raita: A cooling yogurt-based side dish made with diced tomatoes, yogurt, and spices like cumin and chaat masala. It is often served as an accompaniment to biryani or pulao.
- Tomato Paneer: Cubes of paneer (Indian cottage cheese) cooked in a rich tomato-based gravy, often flavored with spices like cumin, turmeric, and kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves).
- Tomato Upma: A savory breakfast dish made with semolina (rava), tomatoes, and tempered with mustard seeds, curry leaves, and spices. It is a quick and satisfying dish.
- Tomato Fish Curry: A tangy and spicy curry made with fish fillets cooked in a tomato-based gravy with aromatic spices like cumin, coriander, and turmeric. It is a popular coastal dish.
- Tomato Pickle: A tangy and spicy pickle made with chopped tomatoes, spices, and oil. It is typically enjoyed as a condiment with rice, dosa, or Indian bread.
- Tomato Omelette: A vegetarian alternative to the traditional egg omelette, made with a batter of besan (gram flour), tomatoes, onions, and spices. It is a popular breakfast or snack option.
- Tomato Chaat: A flavorful and tangy street food snack made with chopped tomatoes, onions, chaat masala, and a variety of chutneys. It is garnished with sev (crunchy gram flour noodles) and fresh herbs.
- Tomato Pachadi: A South Indian side dish made with tomatoes, grated coconut, spices, and tempered with mustard seeds, curry leaves, and red chilies. It is often served with rice or dosa.
- Tomato Sambar: A lentil-based stew made with tomatoes, lentils, and a blend of spices. It is a popular accompaniment to idli, dosa, or rice in South India.
- Tomato Paratha: Flatbread stuffed with a mixture of tomatoes, spices, and herbs. It is a tasty and filling option for breakfast or lunch.
- Tomato Ketchup: A classic condiment made with tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, and spices. It is a versatile accompaniment used in various dishes like sandwiches, burgers, and snacks.
These are just a few examples of the many delicious tomato-based dishes found in Indian cuisine. Each region in India has its own variations and specialties, so the use of tomatoes can vary across different culinary traditions.
If you are looking for a few alternatives to replace expensive tomatoes in Indian Cooking, read 5 Best Tomato Alternatives for Indian Cooking