Tomato Paste

Tomato is very important in many curries with its glutomate content adding a rich ‘umaminess’. When used in abundance the tangy tomatoey flavour becomes prominent, and when used sparingly still adds a certain something without taking the attention away from other ingredients.

What I refer to as ‘Tomato Paste’ in my curry recipes can be a cause of confusion. The term can be interpreted as meaning pure tomato purée (you know the stuff – labelled ‘double concentrated’ and sold in tubes, jars, or tins). Using it pure will usually result in an overpowering tomato overdose.

So, here’s some clarification about what ‘Tomato Paste’ means in the MRCK recipes, and how it can be prepared:

  1. Tomato purée (double concentrated) diluted with THREE times its volume of water. For example, if a recipe calls for 4 TBSP tomato paste, mix 1 TBSP tomato purée with 3 TBSP water. NOTE: What is known as tomato purée in the UK is often sold labelled as ‘Tomato Paste’ elsewhere in the world.
  2. Blend tinned or fresh tomatoes to form the paste. The tinned plum variety has more flavour than that sold as ‘chopped’, and fresh, ripe, vibrant red vine tomatoes are superior to bland, cheap ‘salad’ tomatoes. Of course, fresh tomatoes are considerably more expensive than tinned.
  3. Passata. No need to dilute. Avoid products with added herbs such as basil.

Each of the above has different flavour and colour. My personal preference is the first option with a good quality tomato purée. Experiment and decide which you prefer. 

Books by Richard Sayce

Indian Restaurant Curry at Home Volume 1
Indian Restaurant Curry at Home Volume 2 Front Cover
Curry Compendium Cookbook


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