As tomato prices soar, finding creative and cost-effective alternatives to this kitchen staple becomes essential for culinary enthusiasts. Tomatoes are a versatile ingredient that adds depth, tanginess and richness to various dishes.
Tomatoes are easy to use, quick to cook, delicious to eat and a common favourite in most kitchens. Tomatoes are used to add tartness to any dish, it is also commonly used in Indian gravies for their tangy tart taste and to add bulk to curries.
Due to health concerns such as digestive disorders or joint troubles, some may need to avoid tomatoes. Additionally, with the current surge in tomato prices, economic considerations might prompt limiting their use. Whatever the reason may be, the alternatives for tomatoes must be searched and brought into daily use. Here are some convenient and cost-effective options that serve similar purposes as tomatoes.
Pumpkins are highly nutritious and easy to use and are a great alternative to tomatoes, especially in Indian curries and gravies, to add bulk to them. They are even far cheaper than the current prices of tomatoes!
Pumpkins are slightly sweet, but have a natural creamy texture and can easily be disguised as a replacement for tomatoes. The slightly sweet taste can easily be masked use of vinegar or lemon which can provide the slightly sour taste of tomatoes.
Curd is one ingredient that comes the closest to tomatoes and will often help you forget the lack of tomatoes in your Indian gravies and curries. The flavour of the curd is just perfect to provide a slightly sour, tangy taste to your curries. It even helps to add bulk to your gravies.
Replace tomatoes with curd; you will probably not even know the difference. Of course, one has to take care that the curd must be fresh and whisk it well before adding it to the gravy and take care to lower the temperature of the gravy to ensure that the curd does not split inside the gravy.
Yet another factor to take care of is that being a dairy product, the shelf life of gravies prepared in curd may be limited and must preferably not be left out for too long.
Pumpkin and curd cannot be added to any and every preparation. Most certainly not to dals or any other preparation where the role of tomatoes is to lend a sweet tangy taste. This is where tamarind comes most handy.
The overall flavour profile of tamarind is sour and slightly sweet. Which is similar to tomatoes, but tamarind is more intense taste-wise.
You can simply make a paste using tamarind and water and use a small quantity of it to replace the sweet and sour taste of tomatoes in dals, chutneys or other such preparations.
This is another tropical fruit available along the coastline of Western India. It is often used in dried form or available as a concentrate. This tropical fruit’s sour and tart flavour is an easy alternative to tomatoes. Though not very easily available, it is a natural and healthy alternative that can be easily stored in your fridge as well.
Lemon is a commonly used kitchen ingredient that can be useful as another option when tomatoes are unavailable or cannot be used. Finish your preparation without adding tomatoes, and finally serve with a squeeze of lemon and your recipe will be delicious even without the use of tomatoes.
When tomatoes are to be avoided and none of those mentioned above options can do the trick, vinegar is yet another great agent to add sourness to your dishes. Just a dash of vinegar and you’re good to go.
The above-mentioned replacements of tomatoes are great because either they have a tart, sour taste or add bulk and body to your curries and gravies.
We will now look at some other replacements for tomatoes, that may have a slightly different flavour profile, but add their distinct flavour to make the recipes delectable even with the absence of tomatoes.
These when roasted or grilled have a delicious sweet taste that works great in recipes where tomatoes are to be replaced. They are perfect to offer an attractive reddish hue and are great additions to salsas and other such recipes.
Grilled eggplants have an enjoyable taste and work to add bulk in recipes when you have to avoid tomatoes. Their taste profile isn’t very strong and so can easily blend into any recipe.
The only point one needs to be careful about is the fact that, unlike tomatoes, eggplants have a tendency to absorb a lot of oil and your dish may end up becoming oily. To counter this, firstly use less oil in your recipe. Or if you need to fry the eggplants, then ensure the oil is very hot, as this will reduce its oil absorption.
Just like eggplants, these ingredients also have a fleshy texture and a relatively neutral taste. And so, when grilled or roasted they are great replacement options for tomatoes.
Other alternatives for fresh tomatoes
In the absence of fresh tomatoes, tomato ketchup can be easily used. Its tart, sweet and sour taste will be an ideal alternative to fresh tomatoes. Of course, we know that tomato ketchup contains a lot of sugar and is not always the healthiest alternative.
But it works as an occasional replacement or in case of a last-minute plan.
Pureed tomato in canned or packaged form is yet another option, but again this variant is often packed with preservatives and has a distinct aftertaste which may be off-putting for many.
But it contains tomatoes and so if you wish to only use tomatoes and no other option will do the trick, tomato puree can be used.
There are many other variables in the form of tomatoes like tomato paste, canned tomatoes or even sun-dried tomatoes can be used if you insist on using nothing else but tomatoes.
While tomatoes have several health benefits, if you avoid them for any reason you can scroll through the above-mentioned options and choose an alternative that works best for you and your loved ones.