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4 Recipes For Wonderful Green Tomatoes

March 06, 2024 17:51 IST
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Green tomatoes

Photographs: Zelda Pande

It's barely 15 degrees Celsius outside today and my winter garden overflows with an abundance of lovely harvest-ready vegetables.

Lettuce is shooting up. Patches of tender spinach are all over the place. Also lal math (red amaranth), green chillies, delicate leaves of basil, baby baingans (eggplant), doodhis (bottle gourd), dhaniya (coriander leaves), methi leaves (fenugreek) and more.

The lemon tree groans with great-tasting neebus, larger than the regular bazaar variety and turn a wonderful shade of orange and are a tad sweeter than usual lemons. We also got a giant branch of green bananas that ripened into the sweetest fruit.

Quite a few tomato plants are in the garden patch too, bearing green fruit slowly blushing red.

There are scores of uses for fresh garden tomatoes, both green and red. The nicest, plumpest ones make tasty passata (tomato paste) that you can freeze and add to pasta or on pizza as when you need it. Just-plucked tamatar is good for making tomato chutneys, salads, soups, sambar, juices, kofta curries or sliced in sandwiches.

And green tomatoes? Oh, there umpteen ways to utilise them too and they are said to be even healthier than their lal counterparts. In rasam, in chutneys, on your spaghetti, part of simple salads, tucked in BLTs, as sabzi. They have a unique taste -- a little sour and only subtly, well, tomato-ey.

Now is the season for green tomatoes. Look out for them in the market and go ahead and try these four recipes -- Green Tomato Chutney, Spaghetti With Green Tomato Sauce, Rasam With Green Tomatoes and a Green Tomato Salad.


Green Tomato Chutney

Green Tomato Chutney

Serves 3-4


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6-7 pods garlic, crushed or minced
  • 3 green tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 tbsp til or sesame oil
  • 2 dark green chillies
  • 1-inch piece ginger
  • Salt to taste, about ½ tsp
  • ½ tbsp dhaniya or coriander seeds
  • A few sprigs green dhaniya or coriander, about 1 tbsp chopped
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp rai or mustard seeds
  • Generous pinch hing or asafoetida
  • 2 boriya or round red chillies
  • 7-8 curry pattas or curry leaves

Cooking green tomatoes with onion and garlic for the chutney

IMAGE: Frying green tomatoes with onion and garlic for the chutney.


  • Heat the sesame oil in a kadhai or frying pan over medium heat and fry the onion, garlic for 2-3 minutes till the garlic browns a bit.
    Add in the quartered green tomatoes and fry 5-8 minutes more.
    Don't fry the tomatoes too much -- they should remain half raw.
    Keep aside to cool.
  • In a mixer, grind the onion-garlic-green tomato mixture with the green chillies, dhaniya seeds, salt, green dhaniya, ginger.
    Empty the chutney from the mixer into a bowl.
    Keep aside.
  • Heat the coconut oil in a small frying pan or tempering pan over medium heat and add in the rai, hing.
    Let it crackle and then add the red chillies and curry pattas and fry for 30 seconds more.
    Pour the seasoning into the chutney and mix.
  • Serve with idlis, dosas, aapams, medu vadas, dal vadas, upma, Panyarams or even with snacks like pakoras, chilas or bondas (wada).


Spaghetti With Green Tomato Sauce

Serves: 2


  • 300 gm uncooked spaghetti or thinner capellini or hollow bucatini, available online
  • 1½ tbsp butter
  • 3-4 green tomatoes
  • 1 cup pasta water, reserved after cooking the spaghetti
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
  • 10 pods garlic, crushed or minced
  • 6-7 green olives, sliced, optional
  • 4 stalks spring onions
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste, about 1½ tsp
  • 1 tsp freshly crushed black peppercorns
  • Dash sugar
  • Dash milk, optional
  • ¼ cup grated or shavings cheese, preferably fresh Parmesan or try crumbled Greek feta


  • Bring 4 cups water to boil in a large saucepan over high heat.
    Keep a strainer or colander ready in the sink to drain the spaghettii.
    Add the spaghetti and cook over high heat till al dente -- not too soft.
    Al dente means 'to the tooth' or pasta that has a bite to it.
    Packets of pasta usually have their cooking time listed on them.
    To make a pasta al dente, subtract 1 minute or 1½ minutes from the cooking time.
    Drain, but first reserve 1 cup of the water in which the pasta was boiled in another saucepan and keep aside.
    Return the drained pasta to its saucepan and add the butter and toss.
    Keep aside.
  • Bring 3-4 cups water to boil in a large saucepan and add the green tomatoes and allow them to blanch for a few minutes so the skin loosens.
    Drain the water.
    Cool a little.
    Core the tomatoes and remove the skin and grind in the mixer and keep aside.
  • Chop the greens and the white bulbs of the spring onions separately and keep aside.
  • In a large frying pan, saute the crushed garlic in the olive oil over medium heat for 1-2 minutes.
    Add the chopped whites of the spring onions and fry for 1-2 minutes more and add the green tomato paste, olives, milk and the reserved pasta water.
    Bring to a bubbling boil over medium heat for 5-6 minutes till the sauce is thickish and season with the pepper, salt, sugar and the greens of the spring onion.
    Take off heat and add the fresh basil.
  • Plate the pasta and pour the sauce on top, dividing it between 2 plates and garnish with the cheese and serve hot.

Zelda's Note: Tomato sauce pastas served in many a restaurant have too much red chilly, which takes away from the flavour of the sauce. But if you can't do without your chilly, add 2 pinches or 1 tsp Tabasco, not more.

While other cheeses will work, try and procure authentic Parmesan for this recipe or use the Greek feta cheese.

While making the sauce you could add 1 cup of chopped mixed vegetables like red capsicum, green capsicum, mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini or non-vegetarians may prefer to add a handful of de-veined, peeled and tailed prawns.

Skip the garlic for a Jain version of this pasta and use vegan cheese to have veganised pasta with tomato sauce or skip the cheese altogether.

Green Tomato Rasam

IMAGE: Green Tomato Rasam (in the katori on the left) served with rice, methi pakora sabzi, methi alu, rotis and rice.

Green Tomato Rasam

Serves: 3-4


  • 2 green tomatoes, ground
  • ½ cup toor dal or pigeons peas, boiled and mashed
  • 1-inch piece ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp ghee or cashew butter
  • Pinch methi or fenugreek seeds
  • 2 tsp rai or mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp hing or asafoetida
  • 10 curry pattas or curry leaves
  • 4 boriya or round chillies, 2 cut in half (broken) and 2 whole
  • 2 tsp freshly crushed black pepper powder
  • 3 tbsp rasam powder
  • 1 tbsp or less imli paste
  • Salt to taste, about 1½ tsp
  • Water
  • Handful chopped green dhaniya or coriander, for garnish


  • Heat the ghee with the methi in a medium-sized saucepan, over medium heat, and then add the rai, hing.
    When it begins to crackle, add the 4 red chillies and the curry pattas.
    Fry 30 seconds more.
    Add the dal, green tomato paste, ginger and enough water to have a watery rasam consistency, about 2½ cups.
    Add the pepper and the rasam powder.
    Add the imli paste -- the green tomatoes are also sour, so add carefully.
    Bring to a boil and let it simmer for 5-8 minutes on low heat.
    Take off heat and add the dhaniya garnish and serve hot with steamed rice or wadas.

Zelda's Note: You can use branded South Indian rasam powder like MTR or make a litte of your own. Coarsely grind ½ cup whole red chillies (a mix of boriya chillies with Kashmiri chilies) with ½ cup whole dhaniya or coriander seeds, 2 tbsp black peppercorns, 2 tbsp jeera or cumin seeds, 4 tbsp toor dal or pigeon peas. Store the excess for a future use, idealy in the fridge or freezer.

Green Tomato Salad

Photograph: Kind courtesy: Georgian Recipes/Wikimedia Commons

Green Tomato Salad

Serves: 2-3


  • 3 green tomatoes, sliced or cut in wedges
  • 150 gm mixed salad greens, like iceberg, arugula (rocket), pea shoots, roughly chopped
  • 1 red capsicum or red bell pepper or large green Bhavnagari chillies, de-seeded, sliced thin
  • 1 spring onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tsp chopped basil
  • 2 tbsp chopped celery leaves, not the stem

For the dressing

  • 2 pods garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp mustard paste (kasundi or the Bengali mustard paste does well too)
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Salt to taste, about ½ tsp
  • ½ tsp black pepper powder


  • Mix the ingredients for the dressing in a covered jar and shake it up well.
    Keep aside.
  • In a large bowl, toss the vegetables and herbs for the salad.
    Pour the dressing over it and toss.
  • Serve the salad with soup or sandwiches or as a side with pasta.
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