“What a pound for the tomatoes?” We always ask that question whenever we enter the local market, especially when the vendors have their blushing ripe and rosy specimens on display. After all, who doesn’t love a nice, ripe tomato in our stews, sandwiches and salads? From tomatoes we get all kinds of things, especially our favourite, ketchup, which we use both as a condiment and a food ingredient. Around the world, tomatoes hold their own quite easily, and hardly an Italian dish can be made without them, especially when it comes to our favourite marinara, Bolognese and pasta sauces. It’s a main ingredient in a hearty Greek salad and in France they enjoy them straight off the vine and dipped in a little salt, or drizzled with olive oil and roasted in the oven. Americans down South love some fried green tomatoes and up North they love a good bowl of tomato soup. Tomato juice – which is also a key ingredient in a good Bloody Mary – is also popular there. At home, tomatoes can be found growing in the back yards of most persons’ homes, and we get so many different sizes, shapes and colours that we don’t even bother to categorise them. We just use them in nearly everything we make, and today we have a recipe that is perfect for the Lenten season, and it’s none other than tomato choka, a classic Trini breakfast dish eaten with bread, Crix biscuits or (my favourite) a sada roti.
So no matter how you slice it, the humble tomato is a definite Eye Food winner!
4 red, ripe tomatoes
2 small garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 to 1 fresh hot red pepper, seeds removed, diced finely
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
For the final "choka"
2 tablespoons vegetable (or olive) oil
2 small garlic cloves, peeled and grated on the finest side of the grater
• To roast over an open flame:
Roast the tomatoes by sticking a fork into each one; hold the tomato over a low flame on the stove until the skin is burnt off and the flesh becomes soft.
• To roast in the oven:
Line a baking tray with foil and lay the tomatoes
on it and bake them for 25 minutes or until the skins burst. If any liquid forms under them, discard it.
• Remove the tomatoes and set them aside to cool.
• Peel and remove the cores. Chop them coarsely and place in a clean bowl.
• Mash the garlic, hot pepper, and salt together in a mortar or on a cutting board with the flat side of a knife.
• Add to the tomatoes and stir to mix. Taste for seasoning.
• Next, put the oil and grated garlic in a small frying pan over medium-high heat. Stir until the oil heats up and the garlic turns golden.
• Pour the contents over the tomato mixture
and stir gently.
Serve warm or at room temperature.