Tomatoes and Onion cooked in Spicy Tamarind sauce
Some veggies are must-haves in my pantry/refrigerator at all times, Tomato and Onion top that list (agreed, tomato is a fruit to be precise). No points for guessing!
Both tomato and onion are almost always used as an accompaniment for or as a base in a gravy-based main dish. Here’s one dish that begs to differ, stars of the dish being the tomato – onion duo themselves and little wonder that their duet is such a chart buster!
Part and parcel of the Karnataka cuisine, Gojju loosely stands for a vegetable or even fruit (you might be surprised) based side dish cooked in a spicy tamarind sauce. Ingredients called for, method of preparation and the veggies/fruits used vary from place to place even within Karnataka ranging from the popular okra, eggplant (brinjal), pineapple and raw/half-ripe mango to a more unusual yet equally tasteful and flavorful concoctions of bitter gourd, citron, bell pepper (capsicum) and also orange peel apart from this classic tomato-onion combo. Tamarind being one of the main give aways of South Indian cooking is the obvious key ingredient.
While I love to eat Gojju anytime, it really comes in handy when I am out of all other vegetables or in dire need of a quick-cook menu.
Tomato gojju is very special for my brother, it must have been one of the first dishes he mastered during his cooking-for-survival college days. All he would need was a bunch of chapatis and a generous serving of gojju and life was made. Does that tell you how easy enough it is to make? Perhaps, we can call it a bachelor’s favorite.
How does it taste? Ok, if you insist on describing, here goes. First the aroma of cilantro engulfs you at the first look and on the first bite or lick whichever, the characteristic curry leaf flavor takes over and tomato starts to melt in your mouth. While I start to think it is over, I am pleasantly surprised by the crunch of the onions and the tempered dals. Gets your taste buds talking and wanting for more.
Or in short, hot and spicy, sour and tangy with a hint of sweet all at once and 100% lip smacking, trust me on this one!
Have you ever had some version of Tomato-Onion Gojju? Curious to know your most out of the box culinary use of this saucy dish.
Tomato Onion Gojju Recipe
Things you’ll need:
- 1 medium Onion, finely chopped
- 3-4 large Tomatoes, chopped
- 1-2 tsp homemade / store-bought rasam mix (MTR is pretty good)
- approx 2 tbsp seedless tamarind (not paste)
- sea salt
- 1 tbsp jaggery, crushed or per taste
- Cilantro for garnish
For the tempering
- 1 tbsp peanut oil
- 1 tsp mustard
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds ~ optional
- 1/8 tsp hing/asafoetida
- 1/8 tsp crushed fenugreek/methi seeds
- 1 tsp bengal gram/chana dal
- 1 tsp black gram/urad dal
- 8-10 curry leaves
- 2-3 whole red/green chillies torn in half, seeds removed
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
How it’s done:
Prep work Soak tamarind in warm water before chopping the veggies
- For the tempering, place oil in a medium-sized pan or kadai over high heat. when the oil is hot enough (begins to shimmer), add mustards seeds. When they start spluttering, reduce heat to medium and add cumin seeds, hing, crushed methi seeds, chana dal, urad dal, red chillies, curry leaves and turmeric in the same order and sauté until the dals turn golden brown and red chillies turn brown.
- Now add chopped onion and sauté until translucent taking care not to burn the seasoning. Add chopped tomatoes, stir well and cook covered for 5-10 mins stirring in between until tomatoes are well cooked (lose shape).
- Meanwhile, squish soaked tamarind well for a pulpy juice. It doesn’t matter if it is runny. Add the tamarind juice, salt and rasam mix, stir well, some water if needed (for the consistency you need) and simmer covered over medium heat for 5-7 mins. Do not bring to a rolling boil.
- Switch off the stove and finish by adding crushed jaggery, stir to mix well, garnish with chopped cilantro and store covered until served to preserve the aroma of the spices and cilantro. Why do we need jaggery? It rounds off the tang and the spicy and makes it taste so much better. You’ll see when you make it.
- Serve hot or cold with either rice, chapati, roti, Dosa, Idli, pesarattu or even on sandwiches, you name it!
- Gojju tastes best when allowed to sit for a few hours. So don’t be surprised if it tastes much better the next day (if, there are any leftovers!)If you don’t have Rasam mix, Red chilli powder/Ground cayenne pepper will do just fine too.
- Same recipe works well for Tomatillos (aka green tomatoes), Raw/half-ripe mangoes, eggplant and pineapple
- If you’d like to reduce the level of tang, either reduce the quantity of tamarind or omit completely.
- Will sugar do? Well, sugar makes it sweet and that’s not quite what we want. Jaggery mellows down the spices and gives a hint of sweetness at the back of the tongue which sugar cannot replace. So most preferably use jaggery, else you know what to do!
- Chop tomatoes according to the texture you need, diced for chunky and finely chopped for saucy.
- Add mashed potatoes towards the end of Gojju making for yet another tasty potato-tomato side dish for Indian breads and crepes
- For a South Indian version of Spaghetti, cook your choice of spaghetti as per box instructions and mix in Tomato-Onion Gojju in place of the regular marinara sauce