June 24, 2016

How to Make and Freeze South Indian Tomato Sauce Recipe

How to Make and Freeze South Indian Tomato Sauce Recipe Madhur Jaffrey
..let us preserve some summer sunshine by making this vibrant sauce..
Summer is here. Farmer's Markets across Bay Area are bustling with tomatoes at their absolute best and also cheapest. Summer tomatoes are so much juicier and better when compared to their ghostly, almost powdery versions of the Winter. And Now is also the best time to get to work towards preserving a little sunshine by making a batch of homemade tomato sauce and freeze in a small containers, for later use. Not necessarily for colder months to come as I am pretty sure these will be used way before that. Almost every Indian curry starts with an onion-tomato base and this sauce  compliment well with all of them. 

Today's tomato sauce recipe is a South Indian version I stumbled upon in Madhur Jaffrey's 'Vegetarian Cooking' cookbook. The ingredients are basic pantry staples and the resultant sauce is very flavorful and aromatic. For this recipe, there is no blanching or peeling of tomatoes required. Just roughly chop them into chunks, mix in other ingredients, use some muscle power and let it simmer until it reaches a sauce-like consistency. Cool, blend and store/freeze. That is it. No fancy equipment except for a blender to puree the tomato-ey mixture. 

How to Make and Freeze South Indian Tomato Sauce Recipe Madhur Jaffrey
..more recipes coming up from this ah-mazing book

How to Make and Freeze South Indian Tomato Sauce Recipe Madhur Jaffrey
Fresh Tomaotes from SF Farmer's Market

How to Make and Freeze South Indian Tomato Sauce Recipe Madhur Jaffrey
Hand crushed tomatoes with other ingredients.

True story: 

Totally famished and dog-tired, I arrived home late yesterday night. Sadly, hunger doesn't take a break just because you are exhausted. Take-out was at least an hour away and something simple & fast had to be made. In a pot I added a packet of freezer beans (which I prepared many weeks ago!) along with a container of frozen tomato sauce and a cup of water. As I freshened up, the curry was simmering away. Soon it became a gooey mess; seasoned with salt, turmeric, chilli powder, garam masala; added a splash of milk at the end and ate with a bowl of leftover rice and potato chips on the side. It is during nights like these, I thanks my stars and value the time I spent while making ready to use healthy sauces like today's recipe. Enjoy!

 Simple South Indian Tomato Sauce

Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey (Pg 345) 
Prep Time: 10 mints 
Cook Time: 25- 30 mins 
Makes about 2.5 cups 

Madhur Jaffrey says: This wonderfully spicy sauce that can be thrown over pasta or rice noodles, spread over grilled eggplant or zucchini slices, or used as a dip for a variety of crisp and crunchy Indian fritters, chips or pancakes. As I use this sauce so often, I like to freeze it and always have it on hand. This way I can defrost it whenever the need arises. 


2 pounds of ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1-2 fresh hot green chillies, sliced crosswise into thin rounds
2 handfuls of fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp tamarind concentrate (sold in bottles, available in any Indian store)
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp vegetable oil (the recipe in the book suggests olive/peanut oil) 
1/2 tsp urad dal
1/4 tsp whole mustard seeds
1/4 tsp whole cumin seeds
8-10 fresh curry leaves, lightly crushed in your hand

..a simmering sauce is a very pretty sight..

Put the tomatoes into a bowl and crush them as much as you can with your hand to release the moisture. Add the onions, green chillies, cilantro, 1/2 tsp of salt tamarind paste, chilli powder and turmeric.

Set a medium pan over medium heat and add the oil. When really hot, add the urad dal. As soon as it starts to turn reddish add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, in a matter of seconds, throw in the curry leaves (take care as these will splutter). Add the tomato mixture, reduce the heat to medium low and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer uncovered, stirring every now and then, until the sauce has thickened, in about 20-25 minutes. Taste, add the other 1/2 tsp of salt if needed. Cool a bit, then blend to a thick sauce.

Storage: Add the sauce into ice cube moulds (or small air tight containers) and place them in the freezer section. Ms. Jaffrey recommends defrosting before using. I was short on time, so I microwaved for a 2 minutes (without thawing) and used in my curry. Alternatively, you can store the sauce in an airtight container and place it in the fridge. I used it 5 days later for my dal makhani and it kept well.

Below are few other recipe ideas to make use of this versatile sauce:

Egg in Purgatory
Pasta with Fried Egg
Dip to these gorgeous home made chips or crispy fritters
Mix into my mother's 15 minute Tomato Rasam

How to Make and Freeze South Indian Tomato Sauce Recipe Madhur Jaffrey

Did you like this recipe? Are you craving for more? Keep in touch on FacebookTwitterPinterest and Instagram for new post updates and more. You can also Subscribe to Cooking With Siri feed and check out the Recipe Index page for ideas. Happy Cooking!

This recipe joins June Week # 2 of Cooking from Cookbook Challenge Group.  For Week # 1, I shared a super simple Oats Pongal with Tomato Gotsu recipes.

until next time,


  1. Tomato sauce looks flavorful and looking at the ingredients, guessing it can be used in almost all curries. Nice recipe.

  2. That's a wonderful hack to help us during such times..I always freeze all our required ingredients for such times..pictures are lovely..

  3. Cool.Such a wonderful and useful post.Thabks for the share Siri

  4. a great use of farmers market tomatoes - and great to save time in future months

  5. That's one flavorful & zesty sauce, you got there, Siri. A wonderful way to save your tomatoes & some time in the future :)


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