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Tangy tomatoes for all

PARVATHY MENON
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FOODHow to make tomato ketchup at home

PopulaR AND VERSATILETomatoes can be prepared in a variety of ways
PopulaR AND VERSATILETomatoes can be prepared in a variety of ways

The tomato probably originated in Peru or Ecuador. And long before Columbus discovered America, it had reached Mexico. It is believed to have reached Europe from Mexico in 1555. It was not considered edible until the mid 1700s. There exists no record of the tomato in the U. S. until Thomas Jefferson grew it in 1781. It was not that popular until after the Civil War. The plant, a member of the Solanaceae family, is herbaceous, and a fast-growing tender perennial. It's grown today in practically every country in the world.

There are many varieties, and flavours of tomatoes. The oddly-shaped, wrinkled one is found across in Mediterranean countries, and is incomparable in taste. The plum–shaped one in Italy is suitable for canning, or conversion into tomato puree. In Mediterranean countries, tomatoes are halved and spread out in the sun to dry, and then preserved in olive oil. The dried tomatoes develop a special flavour. Tomatoes are a great source of vitamins A and C. They are high in sugar and water content. These are high in fibre, potassium and folic acid. 100 gm of ripe, red tomatoes contain 22 calories.

Tomato ketchup is a favourite. Try out this home-made version, tasty and natural.

Ingredients

Ripe, red tomatoes — 8 small, deseeded

Red apple — 2

Onions — 2 medium-sized

White vinegar — 150 ml

Cloves — 6

Peppercorns — 12

Ginger — A small piece

Green chillies — 2

Sugar — 100 gm

Salt — 1 tbsp, or to taste

Method

Clean and wash the vegetables and fruits well. Cube the tomatoes, onions and apples. Put them into a heavy-bottomed vessel. Cook until the mixture softens and the tomatoes turn mushy and juicy. Stir occasionally. Add the sugar, chillies, spices, vinegar and salt.

Check for seasoning. Simmer for half an hour. Stir every now and then. Let the mixture cool for five minutes. Make a smooth puree. Simmer for another five minutes over a high flame until the sauce turns thick. Cool. Conserve in a sterilised bottle. Makes a single cup.

Creole tomato sauce

Ingredients

Tomatoes — Three-and-a-half cups, pureed

Onion — 1 large, minced

Garlic — 1 clove, minced

Butter — 3 tbsp

A few sprigs of parsley, rosemary, thyme and sweet marjoram

Method

Simmer together the garlic and onion in the fat. Add parsley and herbs when the mix turns tender and golden brown. Cook for five more minutes. Add tomatoes and season to taste. Cook for at least 30 minutes more. Serve with fish, omelette, or vegetables as well as with meat.

Tomato soup

Ingredients

Tomatoes — 450 gm, chopped

Bombay onions — 110 gm, chopped

Salt, pepper — For seasoning

Flour — 1 dessertspoonful

Sugar — 1 tsp

Water — 500 ml

Milk — 120 ml

Method

In a pan (with lid), melt butter. Add tomatoes and onions. Cook for five minutes. Add water, salt and pepper, and cover the pan with the lid. Simmer slowly for an hour. Pass the soup through a metal sieve. Combine the milk and flour. Pour into the soup. Add sugar and cook for five minutes more.

Now add the remaining milk. Make the soup hot without bringing to a boil. Serve in a soup bowl with a dollop of cream, or garnish with herbs. Goes well with toast and croutons.

PARVATHY MENON

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