Tomatoes have plenty of health benefits and are great appetisers and essential constituents of many tasty dishes. Here are a few recipes to add tang to your life

Tomatoes are sweet, juicy and healthy, with high nutritional value that can be used in many dishes —as salad, in a sandwich, soup, sauces or as gravy for vegetables. A tomato is a rich source of vitamin A and also contains a lot of citric acid along with small amounts of iron, fat, starch, malic acid and vitamin B complex. It helps to purify the blood, stimulates our kidney and helps to expel disease-causing toxins from our body. It also contains beta-carotene and lycopene. Recent researches have shown that lycopene may have cancer fighting properties. A tomato is at its nutritional best when it is fully ripe as the starch it contains gets converted into dextrose sugar and the vitamin C content also increases. Regular consumption of tomatoes limits the acidic value of the urine and thus reduces the chances of urinary infection. It is widely used in Indian, Spanish and Italian cooking. A variety of dishes for breakfast, main course as well as desserts can be prepared with tomato.

Here are some easy-to-prepare recipes:

Baked tomatoes

Ingredients

4 tomatoes

1 cup crumbled paneer

1 onion finely chopped

3 tsp green peas

1 tsp ginger-garlic paste

1/4 cup grated coconut

1 green chilli chopped

1/4 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp oil

3/4 cup grated cheese

3 tsp chopped coriander leaves

1 tsp lime juice

Salt to taste

Method

Slice off the tops of the tomatoes and deseed them. Heat oil in a pan, add the cumin seeds, and when it splutters, add the chopped onion and fry till it turns transparent. Now add the ginger garlic paste, and fry for a minute. Add the chopped chilli, salt and paneer and fry for a minute and remove from fire. When the mixture cools, add the grated coconut, coriander leaves, lime juice and half the cheese. Stuff this mixture into the tomatoes and sprinkle grated cheese on top and bake in a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes at 200 degree C, or till the tomatoes are cooked. Serve hot.

Tomato sandwich

Ingredients

6 bread slices

3 tomatoes chopped

2 onions sliced

2 green chillies slit and deseeded

3-4 tsp coriander seeds

1/4 tsp cumin seeds

1/4 tsp black mustard seeds

Few curry leaves

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1/4 tsp chilli powder

3 tsp oil

2 tbsp butter

2 tsp green chutney

Salt and sugar to taste

Method

Heat oil in a pan and put the cumin seeds and black mustard into it. When they splutter, add the curry leaves and green chillies, and fry for a minute. Then add the sliced onions and fry till its colour turns pink. Now, add the turmeric, chilli powder, salt and sugar and fry for a minute. Then add the tomatoes and cook till oil separates. Finally, add the coriander leaves and remove from fire. Remove green chillies and curry leaves. Apply butter and chutney to bread slices and spread the tomato mixture evenly over the slice. Cover with another buttered slice with a chutney, and toast in a sandwich toaster. Serve hot with chutney or ketchup.

Tomato halwa

Ingredients

4 tomatoes

1 small sized potato

500 gm sugar

10 cashew nuts

5 raisins

Pinch of cardamom powder

1/2 cup ghee

2 cashews chopped for garnishing

3 almonds chopped for garnishing

Method

Puree the tomatoes. Boil and mash the potato. Powder 10 cashew nuts. Heat the ghee in a pan, add the raisins, and when they puff up, add the pureed tomato and mashed potato, mix well and fry for about 5 minutes. Then, add the cashew nut powder and fry for another 3-4 minutes. Now add the sugar and cook till the halwa leaves the sides of the pan. Mix in cardamom powder and garnish with chopped cashew nuts and almonds and serve hot. (Sugar may be adjusted as per taste)

Tomato and coconut soup

Ingredients

5 tomatoes

1 onion

1/2 piece of carrot

1/2 piece of potato

1/4 cup coconut milk

3 flakes of garlic

3 tsp oil

1/2 cup bread croutons

2 tsp butter

1/2 tsp pepper powder

Salt and sugar to taste

Method

Chop the tomatoes, carrot and potato. Slice the onion and the garlic. In a pressure pan, heat one teaspoon oil and fry the garlic and onions till they become light pink. Add the tomatoes, and fry for about 2 minutes. Add the chopped carrot and potato and pressure cook for 3 whistles. After cooling, open the pan and puree the tomato mixture. Heat two teaspoon of butter in a pan, add the tomato puree, bring it to the boil and cook for about 4-5 minutes. Remove the pan from fire. Add the coconut milk and mix well. Return the pan to the fire, but do not let it boil as it may curdle. As soon as it is heated, remove from fire, mix in bread croutons, sprinkle pepper powder and serve hot with a blob of butter.