The next ingredient we are discussing in this ‘lessons from the past’ series is an indispensable ingredient in most kitchens of the world. Its origin and acceptance in the kitchen is surrounded by controversy. We are talking about plump juicy bright red tomatoes – read on and find out how these moved from being in an ornamental garden to your plate.
Being considered a vegetable instead of a fruit is not the only misconception surrounding a tomato. This fruit is not new to controversy. It is odd that even though tomatoes were originally from America, they were not consumed there. Tomatoes were initially used as an ornamental plant, because of the pretty red berries on it. Tomatoes were not eaten because people thought they are poisonous. This belief arises from the fact that tomatoes belong to the nightshade family of plants, most of which are indeed venomous in nature. Tomatoes were initially called ‘wolf peach’ for the same reason. The strong nature of odours from the leaves and stems of this plant reinforced this belief. It wasn’t long before people realized that tomatoes are edible and can be used in several ways in the kitchen. By the early 1800’s tomatoes had become an integral part of food cultures all around the world. The popularity of tomatoes increased greatly after the discovery of the pizza and several other dishes from South Europe for which tomato was an essential ingredient. Tomatoes have ever since grown in popularity and are used in millions of recipes worldwide. They are now considered as one of the healthiest fruits – loaded with several beneficial vitamins and minerals that are anything but harmful for you. So go ahead and add several dimensions to your recipes with this great fruit.
Chef Kapoor’s Tip: Choose the smaller, flat, thin-skinned tomatoes for making sauces. They will not only give better quality sauce, even the flavour will be better and there will be less residue after straining the puree. You can freeze leftover tomato puree in ice cube trays and use it as and when required.