When I was on the cusp of teenage-dom, my father lived in Singapore and I used to go and visit him during the school holidays. Food-wise, I was not very adventurous at the time and loathed anything too hot (chilli, not temperature).
Despite this, we frequently ate devilishly hot, chilli-laced grub. One of my dad’s favourites was (and still is, he visits every year) a delightful Indian restaurant called Hasara. I would love to visit now, with my fully developed palate. At the time, I stuck to the tried and tested, and reliably mild. One such dish was the kick-free, but flavoursome, tomato shorba. It rapidly became a firm favourite.
With my freshly-made chicken stock burning a hole in my freezer, I decided it had to be soup for lunch all this week, and tomatoes are cheap as chips right now. Here is my attempt to recreate that delightful dish – I can tell you it has definitely worked: this is exactly how I remember it.
8-10 vine tomatoes, peeled and chopped into quarters
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 onion, cut into quarters
3 cloves garlic
Half a red chilli, halved and seeds removed
1 inch ginger peeled and grated
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp garam masala
2 curry leaves
1 small bunch coriander, chopped
chicken stock (approx 1 litre)
1 tbsp tomato purée
2 tbsp natural yoghurt
Salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 190C. Drizzle oil on a baking tray and throw on the seeds, onion, chilli, garlic and ginger, then pop in the oven to roast for 10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour the chicken stock into a heavy bottomed saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the tomatoes, garam masala, tomato purée, carrot and curry leaves and simmer gently for 15 minutes. When the onions etc are nicely caramelised, and the spices toasted, add them to the soup base and simmer for a further 5-10 minutes.
When the tomatoes and carrots have softened, season the soup to taste and whizz with a hand-held blender until smooth. Throw in the coriander and yoghurt and stir well – give another little whizz with the blender if necessary.