Tomato choka is a tasty vegan side dish that is enjoyed in T&T, especially for breakfast.
It is made with simple ingredients and full of smokey and spicy flavors.
What is tomato choka
Choka is an East Indian cooking technique. It involves roasting vegetables on open flames, peeling the charred skin off and pouring hot oil with spices over everything.
Making choka was popular in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh where many of the East Indians in Trinidad came from. Today in India, this dish is called tomato bharta or bhurtha.
What is in tomato choka
This tomato choka recipe is a simple one. You’ll need:
- chadon beni (culantro) leaves
- cilantro leaves
Optional ingredients can include common spices and flavorings like:
- geera (cumin) powder
- turmeric powder
- Caribbean green seasoning (with chadon beni, garlic, Spanish thyme, ginger, and pepper)
If you don’t like the sharp taste of onions, you can eliminate it from the recipe.
How to make tomato choka
As I mentioned before, making choka involves roasting the tomatoes, garlic and pepper on open flames, peeling the charred areas and pouring hot oil with onions and seasonings over everything.
It’s a messy recipe but so very tasty!
Roast the veggies
Wash the tomatoes and pepper. Place them and the garlic cloves over an open flame until their skins have charred completely. Rotate everything to ensure there is even charring on all sides of the tomatoes, pepper and garlic.
The garlic will roast the fastest and can be removed once it has softened. The pepper can be removed at any time.
You can roast the vegetables over an open, wood-burning flame or in your BBQ grill. Or you can use your stove top and even a grill basket. Placing the tomatoes on skewers is also an option for quick and easy rotating. As long as the skins of the veggies become charred, then you’re doing it right.
The charring and roasting infuses a smokey flavor into the tomatoes, garlic and pepper. The flavor when combined with the other vegetables tastes incredible.
Remove the charred skin
Once everything has roasted and charred nicely, remove from the flame and set aside to cool.
When they can be handled, remove the charred peels from the tomatoes, garlic and pepper. Mash everything together and set aside.
If you prefer less spicy food, remove the pepper seeds and white pith before mixing with the tomatoes and garlic.
Heat the oil
Place a small pot on medium heat and add vegetable oil. I used homemade coconut oil and it adds a nice coconuty flavor.
If you are using the optional ingredients like geera (cumin) powder and turmeric, you can add it at this point.
Next, if you do not like the sharp taste of raw onions, you can add them to the oil and saute until translucent. I prefer to cook my onions this way.
If you don’t mind the taste of raw onions, you can add them directly to the tomatoes, garlic and pepper.
Since I sauteed the onions, the next step is to add them to the roasted veggies. Mix everything together and add salt and chopped chadon beni and cilantro leaves.
That’s it! A simple, smoky, spicy flavorful side dish that’ll make you happy at breakfast.
What to eat with tomato choka
As I mentioned before, tomato choka goes best with sada roti and other chokas like baigan choka, aloo choka, and avocado slices. Fry bodi (long beans) and fry ochro (okra) are also great side dishes that go well with your Trini breakfast.
Tomato choka recipe
Simple tomato choka recipe
- 6 tomatoes
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 onion
- 1 hot pepper
- 1 – 2 tbsp chadon beni leaves (chopped)
- 1 tbsp cilantro leaves (chopped)
- 1 tbsp oil like coconut oil
- salt to taste
- Wash the tomatoes, pepper and unpeeled garlic cloves.
- Place over an open flame.
- Leave to char on one side.
- Rotate to ensure even charring throughout.
- Remove when the veggies are charred and soft.
- Set aside to cool.
- Remove the charred skin once cooled.
- Mash everything together.
- Set aside.
- Place a small pot on medium heat.
- Add vegetable oil.
- Saute onions until translucent (3 minutes).
- Add onions to mashed tomatoes, garlic and pepper.
- Mix in salt, chopped chadon beni and cilantro leaves.
- Serve hot.