Tomato Sauce

Preparation info

  • Makes about

    570 ml

    basic sauce
    • Difficulty


    • Ready in

      1 hr 15

Appears in

The Rice Book

By Sri Owen

Published 1993

  • About

This starts off as a basic sauce which can be made with either fresh or canned tomatoes. You can refine or spice it to your own taste or for a specific purpose. You can also transform it into your own home-made tomato ketchup.

The quantity shown here is, I think, the minimum that you should make in one batch. It will keep in the fridge for at least 10 days.


  • 900 g/2 lb fresh ripe tomatoes, skinned, or three or four 340-g/12-oz cans/ cups of chopped tomatoes
  • 6 shallots or 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2.5-c/l-inch piece of ginger root, peeled
  • ½ tsp salt


Bring all these ingredients to the boil in a saucepan. Simmer on a low heat for 50–60 minutes, stirring occasionally and making sure the mixture doesn’t dry out. Add 2 tablespoons of water from time to time. The end result should be quite thick. Take out the piece of ginger. You now have your basic tomato sauce, which can be used in the following ways.

1 Use it as it is, by heating the amount you require in a small saucepan. Add pepper or chilli powder to taste. If you like a little oil in it, add 1–2 tablespoons of the best olive oil you can find, or peanut oil. As soon as the oil is hot, stir the sauce and leave it to cook for 5–8 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2 For a very smooth sauce, add seasoning (and oil, if you wish) as described in the preceding paragraph, and pass it through a fine sieve. You can then add any chopped herbs you fancy: parsley, coriander/cilantro leaves and dill are all good. The solids that remain in the sieve can be discarded or, better, added to the stock pot.

You may say that it would be easier to put everything in the blender. This, however, would not give a rich red sauce but an orange-coloured one with a strong taste of onions. The texture, too, would be much less smooth.

3 To make tomato ketchup, you require the additional ingredients shown.

Mix these together and stir until smooth. Transfer them to an enamelled (that is, a non-reactive) pan. Heat the mixture gently, stirring it all the time. As soon as it thickens, add the smooth red sauce described in paragraph 2 above, but without any herbs. Let it simmer for 2–3 minutes longer, still stirring continuously. Adjust the seasoning. The ketchup can be used while it is still hot, or it can be stored in a jar and refrigerated (for up to 10 days) until required.