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This article was first published 1 year ago  » Getahead » Food » 5 Curries That Don't Need Tomatoes

5 Curries That Don't Need Tomatoes

Last updated on: July 06, 2023 10:30 IST
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Tomatoes are selling at ₹120 to ₹160 per kilo and it's a headache for us to constantly figure out how we can avoid using the vegetable in our daily meal prep.

If your breakfast is a South Indian fare of idli, dosa, medu vada or an egg-loving feast of omelette, French toast, scrambled or fried eggs, you don't need to bother about using tomatoes.

But are you on the hunt for options on how to whip up delicious Indian curries and raseela sabzis without this pantry staple?

We bring you five recipes from our archives that don't require tomatoes and can add joy to any dinner table when served with hot rotis or a bowl of steamed rice.

Photograph: Kind courtesy Taruna Deepak

Taruna Deepak's Dal Muradabadi

Serves: 3-4


For the dal

  • ½ cup yellow mung dal
  • ¼ tsp hing or asafoetida
  • 5 cups water
  • 1-2 tsp grated ginger
  • ½ tsp red chilly powder or to taste
  • Salt to taste, about ½ tsp
  • 1 medium-sized boiled potato, finely shredded

For the tempering

  • 1 tbsp oil or ghee
  • 2-3 whole dry red chillies, each split in two to three pieces
  • ½ tsp jeera or cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp ajwain or carom seeds
  • ¼-½ tsp hing or asafoetida or to taste (hing strength often varies)
  • ½ tsp kala namak or black rock salt

Garnish for serving

  • 2 tbsp finely chopped green chillies, optional
  • 1 tsp kala namak or black rock salt, optional
  • 2 tbsp amchur or dry raw mango powder, optional
  • 2-3 tbsp melted ghee, optional
  • Green chutney, optional
  • 10-12 lemon wedges or juice of 2-3 lemons, optional
  • ¾ cup finely chopped red onions, optional
  • 2-3 tbsp finely chopped fresh green dhania or coriander or cilantro, optional


  • Soak the dal for 30 minutes.
  • Add the soaked dal and the water to a pressure cooker, along with the ginger, asafoetida, red chilly powder, salt.
    Cook the dal for 2 whistles.
    If not using a pressure cooker, boil the dal till mushy and soft.
    Add the finely shredded boiled potato.
    Mix and cook the dal over medium heat for 15-20 minutes more till it attains a smooth texture and no separate grains are visible.
  • Heat the tempering oil in a pan and lower the heat.
    Add whole red chillies, jeera, ajwainhing to the oil.
    Cook for a few seconds or till the spices crackle and become aromatic.
    The spices can easily burn so be very careful.
    Pour the tempering into the dal along with the kala namak and stir.
  • Before serving, add garnish per taste -- the onions, green chutney, chopped fresh green chillies, ghee, amchur.

Editor's Note: Without the additives, the dal will be bland. They are highly recommended.

Alternatively, add a sprinkle of kala namak and a squeeze of lemon over the chopped onions and rest them for 10-15 minutes, before adding them to the dal.

Tamarind chutney may be added as well to provide a sour element.

The amount of additives mentioned are approximate amounts. Adjust them as required.

Add water to the dal depending on the consistency desired.

Keep in mind that the dal will thicken as it sits and the thickened version can be served as snack or chaat, while the thinner version can be enjoyed with steamed rice or hot rotis or hot parathas.

Photograph: Kind courtesy Hershey India

Chef Ranveer Brar's Peanut Curry

Serves: 2-3


For the curry

  • 1-2 tsp caramel syrup
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp jeera or cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp hing or asafoetida
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 1 tsp or more spiced peanut coconut paste (please see the recipe below)
  • 1 tsp red chilly powder
  • Salt to taste, about 1 tsp
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 tbsp green dhania or coriander or cilantro for garnish

For the spiced peanut coconut paste

  • 80 gm peanuts
  • 2 tbsp grated fresh coconut
  • 2 red dry chillies, each cut in two
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • 2 -3 lavang or cloves
  • ½-inch stick dalcheeni or cinnamon
  • 2-3 tbsp water


For the spiced peanut coconut paste

  • In a mixer, combine all the dry ingredients required for the paste.
    Do not add water.
    Dry grind into a coarse mixture.
    Now add a few tbsp of water and blend into a smooth paste.
    Keep aside.

For the curry

  • Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
    Add the cumin seeds, asafoetida and the dried red chillies.
    Add the peanut paste and cook well.
    Add the red chilly powder, salt and the boiling water.
    Add the caramel syrup.
    Cook for 7-9 minutes.
    Take off heat, garnish with green coriander and serve hot with steamed rice.

Editor's Note: Instead of caramel syrup, you might like to opt for a tsp or 2 of jaggery.

For sourness add a little imli paste or kokum water.

For additional flavour, add 2 tsp grated ginger and 8-10 curry leaves.

This peanut curry can also be the base for a peas curry or Mirchi Ka Salan.

For those allergic to peanuts, use cashews. If allergic to nuts, use fresh or dried edmame. 

Photograph: Kind courtesy Sangita Agrawal

Sangita Agrawal's Odia Style Dahi Baigana

Serves: 4


  • 250 gm long or large baingan or brinjal or eggplant
  • ½ tsp chilly powder
  • Pinch haldi or turmeric powder
  • 1 cup dahi or yoghurt
  • 1 tsp sugar, optional
  • ½ tsp black salt
  • Salt to taste, about ½ tsp
  • 3 tsp mustard oil
  • 1 tsp panch phoran or Bengali five spice mix (rai or mustard seeds, jeera or cumin seeds, saunf or fennel seeds, methi or fenugreek seeds and kalonji or nigella seeds)
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • 2 green chillies or 2 red dried chillies
  • 1 tsp jeera or cumin powder
  • Water


  • Wash and cut the eggplants into thin, long slices.
    Sprinkle the turmeric, red chilly powder, ½ tsp salt on the eggplant slices.
    Toss till the eggplant is well coated with the masala.
    Keep aside to marinate for 10 minutes.
  • In a bowl, add the sugar, black salt to the yoghurt and whisk.
    Adjust salt and if less, add as per taste.
    Also adjust the consistency by adding water per preference.
    The yoghurt mix should not be too thin.
    Set aside.
  • Heat 2 tsp of the mustard oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
    Add the marinated eggplant and pan fry till just cooked.
    Take off heat and transfer onto a plate.
  • In the same saucepan, add the remaining 1 tsp mustard oil.
    Add the panch phoran, green or dried red chillies, curry leaves.
    Take off heat and add to the fried eggplant.
    Once the eggplant comes to room temperature, add it to the yoghurt mix.
    Stir well.
    Sprinkle the jeera powder on top and serve with steamed rice, rotis or parathas.

Editor's Note: For a vegan equivalent, substitute the yoghurt with vegan yoghurt.

Photograph: Kind courtesy Bethica Das

Bethica Das' Chicken Kofta Yoghurt Kadhi

Serves: 3-4


For the chicken kofta balls

  • 200 gm chicken breast or chicken kheema or mince
  • Pinch haldi or turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper powder
  • 2 tbsp chopped spring onion
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped green dhania or coriander or cilantro
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped mint leaves
  • 1-2 green chilies, chopped
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • Salt to taste

For the kadhi

  • 1 cup yoghurt
  • 3 tbsp besan or gram flour
  • 3 cups water
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ tsp haldi or turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp dhania or coriander powder
  • ½ jeera or cumin powder

For the tempering

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • ½ tsp rai or mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp methi or fenugreek seeds
  • Pinch hing or asafoetida

For the garnish

  • Green dhania or coriander or cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Few tsp pickle oil


For the chicken kofta balls

  • Place the chicken in a mixer grinder jar and make a thick paste without adding any water.
  • In a bowl, mix the chicken paste with all the other kofta ingredients.
    Roll the mixture into small, walnut-size kofta balls.
    Make sure you keep wetting your hands at intervals while rolling to prevent sticking.
    Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.

For the kadhi

  • In a deep bowl, whisk together all the kadhi ingredients.
    Heat the tempering oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or kadhai and add the ingredients for the tempering, first the fenugreek seeds, then the mustard seeds, asafoetida.
    Saute for a few seconds allowing the mustard seeds to pop.
    Add the kadhi mixture and bring it to a boil.
    Gently drop in the chicken koftas balls.
    Simmer on a medium to low heat till the koftas are cooked and the kadhi reduces to the desired consistency.
    Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and a drizzle any pickle oil on hand for added taste.
    Serve with steamed rice, papad and pickle.
    Chicken Kofta Kadhi can also be served with steamed rice, biryani, pulaojeera rice, naans, tandoori rotis or chapattis.

Editor's Note: Vegetarian or vegan? Instead of besan pakoras or chicken koftas, for a change add pieces of paneer or small whole onions or drumstick pieces or sticks of mooli or white radish to the yoghurt-based kadhi.

Also if vegan, use vegan yoghurt, available in several brands, to make the kadhi.

Photograph: Nadiya Sarguroh

Nadiya Sarguroh's Cashew Chicken Curry

Serves: 3-4


  • 750 gm chicken, cut in curry pieces
  • 100 gm yoghurt
  • 1 heaping tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • ½ tsp black pepper powder
  • ½ tsp jeera or cumin powder
  • 15 black peppercorns
  • 5 green elaichi or cardamom
  • 2 small sticks dalchini or cinnamon
  • 5 Kashmiri red chillies
  • 50 gm almonds, soaked and peeled
  • 50 gm cashews
  • 1 medium-sized onion, boiled
  • 4 green chillies
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste, about 1½ tsp
  • Water
  • Green dhania or coriander or cilantro, for garnish 


  • Marinate the chicken with the ginger-garlic paste, yoghurt, salt, cumin powder, black pepper powder.
    Keep aside.
  • For the cashew paste, blend in a mixer, the cashews, almonds with little water.
    Keep aside.
  • For the onion paste, blend in a mixer, the boiled onion with the green chillies.
  • In a large heavy-bottomed kadhai or saucepan, heat the oil and add the dry whole spices along with the Kashmiri chillies.
    Roast on a medium heat till aromatic.
    Add the onion paste and cook for 5 minutes while stirring, till the oil oozes out.
    Add the marinated chicken along with its marinade and mix well.
    Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes.
    Once the chicken starts changing colour take off the lid, give it a good stir and add the cashew paste.
    Cook for a couple of minutes more till the curry comes back to a boil.
    Adjust the consistency of the curry by adding a little water slowly and letting it simmer.
    Cover again and cook for a further few minutes till the curry comes to a boil again and looks thick and creamy and the chicken is completely cooked.
    Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with steamed rice.

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