As kids growing up we (brother and sisters) went to school in “town”, which meant leaving home very early as it was a fairly long drive every morning. This usually meant a quick breakfast that we could grab and go. But on the weekend it was a different story. Yes, we still had to wake early and get chores done if we wanted to be on the good side of our mom for the day, but she would spoil us with some hearty food for breakfast. One of my favorite things to eat on the weekend was tomato choka and roti. My mom is tops when it comes to making roti, something I still have to learn to make. But her tomato choka was phenomenal.
She still makes a mean choka, but I do find myself craving my own simple version.
3 medium to large ripe tomatoes (leave on your kitchen counter to really ripe)
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 of a small onion (depends on how much you like onions)
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 hot pepper (to control the heat, don’t use the seeds)
Note: There are several ways you can prepare the tomato for this recipe, but in this version we’ll use the grill. You can also boil in water, place in the microwave on high for a few minutes, roast in your oven or roast in a frying pan on your stove top. If you’d like more info on any of these other methods, leave me a comment or use the contact link above to send me a message.
Wash and remove the stems from the tomato, then place on grill (BBQ). Try to keep the temperature set at about 400C and rotate a couple times to cook evenly. Try not to play with them as they cook as they are delicate and can crush and be of no use to you. I also roast my pepper for a couple minutes as well. Don’t ask me why… it’s just the way I saw my mom do it.
In a bowl add the garlic (slice to make this step easier), salt, hot pepper and get a pestle or something to crush everything with. The salt will assist in breaking things down since it’s abrasive.
With a little bit of force, try to crush everything into a paste.
After about 10-15 minutes on the grill, remove the tomato. It will look charred and you’ll almost think you’ve ruined it. Nope.. that just brings out the natural sugars in the tomato and it’s exactly what we’re looking for. The burnt skin should easily fall off.. try to remove as much as you can. Then add the tomatoes to the bowl with the already crushed garlic and pepper.
Crush everything into a nice thick sauce. the tomato will let out a bit of liquid (depends on the variety of tomato you use). You’ll probably find that around the stem area of the tomato will be a bit tough to crush. You can remove that from the bowl.
Slice the onion very thin and place on top of the now crushed mixture. Then in a small frying pan, put the olive oil to heat on high. In a couple minutes you’ll start seeing the oil starting to smoke. Try not to keep it on the heat fro much longer as olive oil cannot withstand too much heat. Take the oil over to the bowl and gently (be careful for oil splatters) pour onto the onions. Act fast – stir the entire lot around so the crushed garlic, the salt, pepper, roasted tomato puree and the onions get’s mixed evenly. You’re done!
TIP : I try to use a “sweet” onion instead of a normal cooking onion so it’s not as bitter when eating. In the past I’ve also roasted the garlic before crushing but I’ve found that I missed that true garlic flavor that I grew up with.
Overall a very simple, but tasty side dish that’s just perfect for roti or worst case.. pita!