Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tomatoes Stuffed with Potatoes and Peas

Last night I finished eating, went into the bathroom for a glass of water and when I came out, Chris was licking my plate. "What?" he asked per my expression, "haven't you ever seen a person lick a plate before?" "Yes", I replied, "just never my plate." I must say though, I'm flattered.

A few months ago I was on the hunt for passion fruit puree and came across a spice shop called Kalustyans in the East 20's. I was able to check their stock online and they didn't have what I was looking for but I made a point of going anyway. They're supposed to be one of the best spice shops in NYC and having just purchased Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East : Vegetarian Cooking, I knew it would be a worthwhile trip.

Put simply, they have everything. Most of their inventory is geared towards Indian, Middle Eastern and Asian cooking but you can also find English, Australian, Turkish and French goods, among many others. When you walk in you are welcomed by large barrels of nuts (salted, unsalted and roasted) along the floor, glazed apricots, rose water Turkish paste, dried figs and crystallized ginger in bins above and Middle Eastern pastries, tea, chutneys and orange flower water along the walls. Towards the back are oils, vinegars and sauces, and to the left, in a rather large room are shelves and shelves of spices both whole and ground, galangal, curry leaves, garam masala, peppercorns of every variety, curries, star anise, amchoor and kaffir lime leaves to name a few. They have lentils and beans, rice noodles and dried mushrooms, frozen fruit purees and honey. And the best thing about them is they ship. So if you live in a town with no access to spices like these you can place an order and have them in a few days.

I love Indian food (and so does Chris) and having the right spices on hand means I can cook it at home. In addition to spicy foods being a pleasant break from the norm, they also have wonderful healing properties. A Costa Rican woman I know told me that making tea from dried curry leaves is a powerful tonic for high blood pressure. At night boil a cup of water and place a curry leaf in it. Cover and drink in the morning. I also find that when I cook with a lot of spices I don't need to use as much salt. Another benefit.

Last night I made Madhur Jaffrey's stuffed tomatoes and they are delicious. They're like a samosa but much lighter because instead of  being wrapped in pastry, the potatoes and peas are stuffed into a tomato and baked. I made a complete mess of the tomatoes because I didn't have a grapefruit spoon to remove the insides with but after discovering my hands were the next best thing, the scooping went just fine. It's like carving a tiny and very delicate pumpkin.

I made up a yogurt sauce of cumin, plain yogurt and salt to be drizzled on top which added a nice creaminess to the dish and served it with a salad of red leaf lettuce, lemon juice and olive oil. And because I was pressed for time I made a lot of shortcuts, errors and omissions which you can find in parentheses in the recipe below. Be sure to read the entire recipe before you plunge in and don't forget to lick your plate.

Here is Madhur Jaffrey's:

Tomatoes Stuffed with Potatoes and Peas
6 firm, flat-bottomed, medium-large tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper

4 medium sized potatoes, boiled unpeeled and cooled
4 tbs. vegetable oil
1 medium sized-onion, peeled and minced
1 cup shelled or defrosted frozen peas
1 tbs. peeled and grated fresh ginger (use a ginger grater, see photo below)
1 fresh hot green chili minced
3 tbs. finely minced chinese parsley (cilantro)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground roasted cumin seeds
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 tbs. lemon juice or 1 tbs. lemon juice and 1 tbs. amchoor
1 teaspoon anardana (dried pomegranite seeds)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and wipe the tomatoes. With a sharp, pointed knife, cut a cone-shaped cap at the stem end of the tomato, pull it out, and discard it. Keep this opening in the tomato as small as possible, just allowing yourself enough room to be able to go inside the tomato with a grapefruit spoon to scoop out all the pulp and seeds (I used my hands). As you do this, be careful not to pierce or otherwise damage the shell of the tomato (I did this many times). Sprinkle the inside of the tomato shells with a little salt and pepper and drain the tomatoes by turning them upside down for ten minute (I did not do any of this).

Peel the potatoes and dice them into roughly 1/4 inch pieces (I peeled them, then boiled them and while still hot diced them). Heat the four tablespoons oil in a 10-12 inch skillet over a medium flame (I used coconut oil and my electric skillet at 300 degrees). Put in the onion, stirring and frying until it turns a light brown color. Add the peas, the ginger the green chili, Chinese parsley (I used regular curly leaf parsley), and three tablespoons water. Cover, lower heat and simmer very gently until peas are cooked. Stir every now and then and add additional water, a tablespoon at a time, if the skillet seems to dry out. Now put in the diced potato, salt, coriander, garam masala, roasted ground cumin (I toasted it in my toaster oven with and extra tsp. of cumin for the yogurt), cayenne pepper, lemon juice (or lemon juice and amchoor), and anardana (I didn't have any). Keep heat on low and mix the spices with the potatoes. Continue cooking gently, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes. Check salt and lemon juice. Turn off heat and leave potato mixture to cool (I did not give time to cool).

Stuff the tomatoes with the potato-pea-mixture. Do not overstuff or the tomatoes will crack open. Let the stuffing protrude a little from the opening in the tomatoes and cover with small caps made out of aluminum foil. Place tomatoes on a baking tray and bake in oven 10-15 minutes or until they are just cooked through. Serve immediately.

Erica's Yogurt Sauce
1 cup plain yogurt, goat milk is good
1 tsp ground, roasted cumin
1/4 tsp. sea salt

Combine all the ingredients and stir until smooth. Serve in a bowl to be spooned on top of the tomatoes or your salad.

*a note
make sure the cumin seeds don't burn when you roast them. I put them in my toaster oven and used the medium/light toast setting. And use a ginger grater, you can find them in kitchen supply stores. They work best when you grate fast and hard and trim the stringy fibers with a knife as you go.


  1. oh man. that looks. awesome. truly. truly. I WANT THAT WHEN YOU COME OVER!

  2. This looks amazing! I LOVE LOVE Indian and various stuffed tomatoes. Thanks for the recipe.

  3. This sounds amazing! I might even be able to cook that!! ;)