Tomato Curry recipe made with ripe tomatoes, whole & ground spices, curry leaves and coconut. Don’t go by its simple looks, this tomato curry is loaded with flavours from tangy to spicy & tastes delicious. For a comforting meal, serve it with plain steamed rice, Ghee and some papads or with any Indian flatbreads like roti, paratha or even with Dosa.
Tomatoes are not native to India and were brought by the Portuguese explorers in the 16th century. However they were grown from the 18th century & over the years have been adapted into the Indian cooking. Today India is proudly the second largest cultivator of tomatoes.
Like eggplants & pumpkins, tomatoes are fruits, classified botanically as berries but used extensively as a vegetable for culinary purposes.
Tomatoes form the base of many curried Indian dishes. Apart from imparting sweet and tangy tones, they add so much flavor and body to the dishes.
About Tomato Curry
Tomato kurma, tamatar ki sabzi, tomato kootu all are various ways of making a tomato curry in Indian cuisine. This tomato curry is the most basic and is made with pantry staples. It can be a great dish when you have too many tomatoes in your kitchen or you just don’t have any other veggies to cook.
This Tomato Curry has its roots from the Andhra Cuisine and in the past, a traditional key ingredient known as Telagapindi was used. In the absence of that coconut milk would be added.
For the uninitiated, Telagapindi is defatted sesame flour and is a popular ingredient from the traditional Andhra cuisine. After extracting oil (using wood press) from the raw sesame seeds, the left over residue in the form of cake, is pulverised to get telagapindi.
It is believed that this defatted sesame flour is rich in protein, vitamins, fibre and minerals. So it was regularly used by a lot of Telugu speaking people and was fed to the lactating mothers for its rich source of lignans.
However for hygiene reasons my Mom never used it. This recipe was passed on by my grandmother. I was taught to add some homemade roasted sesame seeds powder (optionally) and/or some coconut milk. This is what I have shown in the recipe below.
A lot of times I do not add sesame powder and but finish up with just the coconut milk. On occasions I have made this with Almond meal, Peanut podi, Idli podi and even with coconut podi. Each one of these imparts a different flavor to the curry.
If you do not have coconut milk, simply grind some soaked almonds or cashews with water to make nut milk and pour it.
You can make a big batch of this curry and refrigerate. For variations you may add some boiled eggs, boiled green peas, grilled potatoes, grilled vegetables and simmer in the curry for a few minutes.
How to Make Tomato Curry (Stepwise photos)
1. This step is optional but I prefer to get rid of the tomato skin. You may skip if you want to. Rinse tomatoes well under running water. Bring 2 to 3 cups of water to a boil and carefully add 3 large tomatoes. Boil the whole tomatoes until the skin loosens. This takes around 3 to 4 mins.
2. Peel off the skin and discard. Chop tomatoes, remove the core & the seeds too if you want.
3. If you want to use sesame seeds, toast 2 tbsps seeds in a pan until light and aromatic. Cool and make a fine powder in a grinder. Set aside. Alternately you may use idli podi, peanut podi, almond meal or even leave out this.
Make Tomato Curry
4. Heat a pan with 2 tablespoons oil. add ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds, ¼ to ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 sprig curry leaves and 1 slit red or green chili. When they splutter add hing. If you want you may add 2 to 3 crushed garlic cloves and fry for 2 mins.
5. Add ¾ cup chopped onions, sprinkle salt and fry on a high heat till they turn slightly pink & transparent. This takes only 3 mins.
6. Add chopped tomatoes, ¼ teaspoon turmeric and fry on a medium high heat for 3 to 4 minutes.
7. Cover and cook till the tomatoes turn fully mushy and soft.
8. Add 1 teaspoon red chili powder, ⅓ teaspoon salt and fry for a min or 2.
10. Pour ¼ cup thick coconut milk. Mix well. Simmer for a min or 2. Off the heat. Do not cook for long if using homemade thick coconut milk else it may coagulate. Taste test and add more salt if you want.
Tomato curry is ready to serve. Serve hot with ghee and rice or roti.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 3 large tomatoes
- ¾ to 1 cup onions chopped, about 2 medium
- 1 green chili slit
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 1 teaspoon garlic chopped or crushed (optional)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons Oil
- ¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 pinch hing (asafoetida) (optional)
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric (haldi)
- ⅓ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- ¼ cup coconut milk thick (refer notes)
- 1½ to 2 tablespoons almond meal (or peanuts or sesame seeds) (optional)
- Optional step: Boil tomatoes for 3 to 4 minutes in 2 cups water. This will loosen the skin. Once cool, remove the skin and discard. Discard the core as well and chop the tomatoes. If you want you can also deseed completely.
- Optional: Skip this step if using almond meal. Toast the sesame seeds or peanuts on a low flame until aromatic. Cool and make a fine powder. If you do not have sesame or peanuts, replace with almonds or roasted gram. Set this aside.
How to make Tomato Curry
- Add oil to a pan and heat it. Add cumin and mustard.
- When they begin to sizzle add curry leaves, green chili, garlic (optional) and hing. Let them fry for a minute or 2.
- Add chopped onions and salt. Saute till they turn pink, not necessarily golden.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and turmeric. Saute for about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Cook covered till the tomatoes turn soft and completely mushy.
- Next add red chili powder and almond meal (or sesame seeds powder or fried gram powder). Mix and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the curry turns thick.
- Add coconut milk and stir. Taste the curry and add more salt if needed.
- When the tomato curry begins to bubble, Turn off the heat. Cooking for longer may coagulate the coconut milk if using homemade.
- Serve tomato curry with rice & ghee or with roti.
- Coconut milk: If you do not have coconut milk, you may blend 15 soaked almonds or cashews with 1/4 to 1/2 cup water to make smooth vegan milk. Skip the almond or peanut powder and just use this nut milk.
This recipe needs only thick coconut milk. Do not use thin coconut milk as you will not get the flavor.
- Sesame seeds: Traditionally white sesame seed powder is used. However I sometimes also use this Spiced peanut podi or idli podi for this. Taste test the sesame seeds first before you powder them.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Tomato curry recipe first published in May 2013. Updated & republished in August 2022.
I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills.
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