Monday, December 1, 2014

Tamate ka katt (Tomato extract)

This one is for the bookmarks, the little sheets of paper that you pull out to cook from, the recipe lists that you scribble for inspiration or an online link that you save and forward  to yourself.  This viscous red concoction that fires up the taste buds with its simple but incredible taste.
Growing up, I loved eating the tangy tamate ka katt, a staple in Hyderabad with boiled eggs and shaami kababs on a mini heap of rice. But, my mother in law’s  version of the dish that is something else,  the first time I ate it I was blown away and continue to do so every time I eat. The difference is that the hyderabadi version uses a thickening agent and this one does not, its pure tomato in all its glory. My praise may seem a little superfluous but perhaps I’m biased with my love for the tangy and mild flavors, maybe you can try?  

When I cook Tamate ka Katt these days it is mostly in bulk as it is labor intensive. I freeze atleast 2 boxes and devise menus in the coming weeks to find an excuse to  defrost a box. 

Ingredients (bulk version, scale down quantities accordingly)
4 kg ripe tomatoes ( if you live in Bangalore, you will find  a round , uneven variety and a thick long , firmer ‘ salad’ variety , I prefer to use a 1:1 mixture of the two)
5 red onions medium sized
1 tsp haldi
2 tablespoon oil
2-3 tea spoons red chilli powder
2 table spoons zeera and methi seeds powder
2 green chillies
Salt to taste

Tadka / baghar / tempering
2 tsp zeera
10 garlic cloves
3 dried red chillies
2 tsp rye/ mustard seeds
10-12 fresh or dried curry leaves

Oil for tempering (about 2 table spoons)

Slice onions lengthwise and chop tomatoes into small cubes.

In a large pressure cooker, fry the onions till translucent.  Add green chillies.

Add salt, haldi, red chilli powder and zeera methi powder.

Add the tomatoes, put on the lid and whistle and let it cook for 15 mins. There is no need to add extra water.

Open the lid, once cooled. The tomatoes should taste cooked and there should be a little floating oil on the surface.

Take a sturdy large metal wire mesh sieve and pass the tomato mixture to extract the pulp. This step takes a bit of time and requires care. The pulp must be sieved completely yet bits of skin should not pass through, the red color will intensify because of the very superficial layer of pulp just below the skin , be sure to get it out. Do not use a hand blender. My mother in law uses a tightly pulled cloth to sieve, the consistency is super smooth but I prefer the metal sieve for practical reasons.

Cook the extracted mixture for about 20 minutes, till the raw smell of tomatoes completely disappears. Adjust the spices if required.

Heat oil in a tempering spoon and add the ingredients in the following order – Garlic, mustard seeds, zeera seeds, dried red chillies, curry leaves. Once browned add to the katt.

Serve garnished with boiled eggs. The katt goes really well with shaami kabab, fried/grilled fish and pepper chicken along with white rice.

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