Years ago when I was a cooking novice and the new friends I had made in the US were something of a culinary genius, this dish had come into being.
No, it was not their recipe. Rather it was my attempt to match up to their amazing homemade rosogollas, fantastic chorchoris and perfect biriyanis. To invite these culinary genius friends to my then home, a one-bedroom apartment, and then to feed them a dinner that would be fitting to their expectation, needed hard work or sleight.
I went with the latter. Hard work was over rated.
I think it was also a take off from Sanjeev Kapoor's Khana Khazana, the only food show I knew about and watched before I landed in the US.
So instead of matching a roshogolla by attempting a chomchom, I made Keema stuffed tomatoes. They were easy to make for a crowd, looked pretty and tasted delicious. No one was complaining.
And then as I learned to cook the other stuff, this tomato was slowly forgotten. By forgotten, not as in 'how-to-cook" forgotten, for this is so easy to make that you can't forget even if you try to. By forgotten I mean, the way simple recipes like postor bora or borar jhaal are being forgotten by Bengali households and there are queues outside restaurants in Kolkata to eat them.
The stuffed tomatoes were brought recently back at a friend's request and I have made it several times in the last few months.
In this recipe I have stuffed tomatoes with a chicken keema stuffing. You can substitute keema with soy granules or use only potato stuffing for a vegetarian option. The best part I like about it is that the dish can be broken down in 3 parts and each done on a separate day while the assembling is all you need to do on the day of the party. You can even cook the stuffing a week ahead and freeze to be used later. So if like me you want to do minimum work and yet create a great starter dish for any gathering this summer, these stuffed tomatoes are the way to go.
And in all this stuffing issue don't forget the book. Sorry for the plugin but there is no point writing a book if you don't read it.
There have been some more lovely reviews by some of my favorite people from the blogosphere -- Eve's Lungs and Kichukhonn.
There has been a beautiful review by Saee who blogs at My Jhola in the Gourmet Table.
I am so very proud that another favorite blogger The Mad Momma has my book on her "Book List", the list which I actually refer to get books now and then and right now have Wife 22 on her reco.
"Bong Mom's Cookbook" has also consistently been at #2 in Popularity on Flipkart and Amazon has only a few copies left for you to order.
Now back to tomatoes and this is how the recipes goes. The measure of the keema given was used to stuff about 20-25 tomato halves i.e 10-12 whole tomatoes.
Buy firm tomatoes on the vine a day before the dinner/party.
Wash them well. Pat Dry
Cut the tomatoes in half. With a spoon scoop out the pulp. Store the pulp in a separate container to be used as pureed tomato.
Salt the tomato innards, invert them on a plate or flat tray and leave them in the refrigerator for an hr or more.
While you are prepping the tomatoes, also make the keema stuffing. The keema is made exactly like the way I make it for the Bengali Keemar Chop
Make Keema Stuffing or Pur
Start off with 1 lb of Chicken Keema
Heat 2tbsp oil in a fry pan.
Add 1 medium sized onion finely chopped and fry till it is soft and pink with browned edges.
To above add
1 tsp ginger paste, 1 tsp garlic paste,
1/2 tsp Cumin powder, 1/2 tsp Coriander powder, 1/2 tsp Red chili powder(more to taste)
and saute for a minute
Add the chicken keema. Add salt to taste. Mix well and cook the keema with the spices until keema is no longer pink and is cooked. Sprinkle 1/4tsp of Garam masala. At this point taste and adjust for seasoning.
Cook the keema with frequent stirring so that the keema is broken up into granules.
Once the keema is done, cool.
Meanwhile boil 2 large potatoes.Once cooled, peel and mash with salt to taste.
Next with your hands mix all of the the following
the prepared keema
a clove of garlic minced
3-4 green chili finely chopped
little beet noon or rock salt
a pinch of sugar
You can also add chopped coriander and mint leaves if you want.
Stuff the Tomatoes and Bake
You can stuff tomatoes the previous night or on the day of the party.
Take each tomato halves, stuff with the prepared keema and level with your fingers. Arrange them on an oven safe tray, the stuffed side up.
Drizzle generously with olive oil and bake them in a pre-heated oven at 350F for 30 mins or until you see the tomatoes sag and their skin starts getting wrinkled.
Towards the end, take out the tray from the oven and garnish each tomato with shredded parmesan or cheddar cheese. Put them back in the oven for 5 mins to allow cheese to melt.
Top each tomato with the Cajun Shrimp for more oomph. Serve hot.