Green Tomato Curry

We’re forever looking for recipes that use green tomatoes, and this is one of our favorites. When autumn arrives, instead of lamenting the fact that all our carefully cared-for tomato plants in the backyard are soon to perish, we can at least look forward to this green tomato curry. As with so many recipes from Sri Lanka, a fresh supply of green chiles and curry leaves (even fresh from the freezer) is almost all you need. The Maldive fish, that other distinctively Sri Lankan ingredient, can be omitted, or you can substitute dried bonito flakes. Either gives an agreeable, slightly smoky layer of flavor.

The recipe takes less than half an hour to cook; it can be made ahead, set aside for an hour, and then reheated. The tartness of the green tomatoes is mellowed by the sweetness of the coconut milk and onion.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ¼ to ½ cup chopped onion
  • 2 green cayenne chiles, seeded and chopped
  • 6 to 8 fresh or frozen curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Maldive fish, or substitute bonito flakes, finely ground (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground fenugreek
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • 1 pound green or semi-ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ¾ cup canned or fresh coconut milk

Method

Heat the oil in a medium heavy pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion, chiles, and curry leaves and cook until the onion is light brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the Maldive fish or bonito flakes, if using, the fenugreek, turmeric, tomatoes, and salt. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes are very soft.

Add the coconut milk and bring to boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Serve as a side dish with simple grilled kebabs of pork or lamb or beef (see Cumin-Coriander Beef Patties, or Lamb Slipper Kebabs, for example).

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