This year I sowed tomato seeds early. In September. In our parts, even the self-seeders show up in late December or early January. Along with nasturtiums that somehow manage to sprout from unlikely places . Like the little gap between rocks. Or from underneath a brick, a long spindly stem, almost albino-like reaching out to the sun…
But coming back to tomatoes I couldn’t resist browsing through ruby red fruits on Amazon and placed my order. Otherwise I am happy with re-seeders in my garden as well as picking up a few saplings from the nearby market. The seeds Amazon came from a farm in Kerala. I was very happy with the germination. 99%. Wouldn’t any gardener be delighted with that kind of blessing?!!
It’s January and I am picking tomatoes everyday. And I thought the first batch should be treated special. And since we had two people coming over for lunch, I made tomato shorba and served it as a starter. Shorba is the word for ‘soup’ and comes from the Arabic.
- 450 grams ripe tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons sunflower oil
- 1 tablespoon chickpea flour
- 2 small cinnamon sticks
- A few (whole) peppercorns
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon toasted and ground cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
- Salt to taste
- Sugar for the balance, about a teaspoon
- Chopped coriander leaves for the garnish
Wash and quarter the tomatoes. Heat the oil in a small pressure cooker. Throw in the whole spices. As soon as they sputter, add the chickpea flour. Fry till the raw smell goes off. Then add the quartered tomatoes. Give the mixture a good stir. Add the chilli powder, sugar and salt. Add water. Close the lid and wait for two whistles.
Once the steam goes off, remove the lid. Place a sieve over a large bowl and gradually empty the contents of the pressure cooker in it. I used the back of a ladle to crush the pulp and get as much of the liquid as possible. I did not have to use the blender as the seeds, skin and whole spices got trapped in the sieve and the shorba separated beautifully. Pour in individual glasses, garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve as a starter.
I only measured the tomatoes in this recipe. You can make your own variations with the spices and the amount of water you add into the soup. Mine was enough for 8 people. This was so light and flavourful that I might make it again. Before my tomatoes run out. And before our short-lived winter bids us goodbye…