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Tomato Saar (1)

Though tomatoes are rich in fiber and antioxidants, we get more lycopene from cooked tomatoes when compared to raw. Lycopene helps fight depression, heart disease and cancer, and gives tomatoes its bright red color. Adding fat to your meal when eating foods such as tomatoes maximizes the body’s absorption of fat-soluble phytonutrients. So, this saar (soup) with coconut ticks all the boxes. Tomatoes have an anti-inflammatory effect that protects muscles and may help athletes recover after exercise, and also helps reduce asthma. Supplements cannot replace the phytonutrients in tomatoes effectively.
Recipe Credit: Darshana Muzumdar
Serves 4 as part of a traditional Indian meal

In my childhood days, tomatoes had softer skin and were juicier and more sour than the hybrid version available these days. So you can try adding lemon juice or tamarind to increase the sourness if the tomatoes are not sour enough. Sometimes, cooking them longer also helps. And best of all is to use the original variety grown organically.


  • 250 gms ripe tomatoes (2 large or 3 medium sized)
  • 2-4 green chillies sliced
  • ¼ coconut, freshly grated
  • 2 tsp jaggery (palm sugar)/sugar

For Tempering

  • ½ tsp groundnut or coconut oil
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • 10 to 12 curry leaves
  • A pinch of asafoetida


Wash and cut the tomatoes into cubes, add about a cup of water and the chillies and cook till they are soft. Add salt, and the jaggery or sugar to taste. Slightly cool and blend the cooked tomatoes till you get a smooth consistency. This is optional but what I prefer. Transfer it to a pot. Soak the grated coconut in a cup of very hot water for 10-15 minutes. Grind it in a blender to a very fine paste and strain it to get the milk. Add the coconut milk to the cooked tomatoes and heat it gently till it just about comes to a boil. Transfer to a serving bowl. Heat the oil in an iron ladle. Add the mustard seeds and allow to splutter. Immediately add the curry leaves and asafoetida turning down/off the heat to prevent it from burning. Roast these till the asafoetida releases aroma and the curry leaves are a light brown. Add this to the cooked tomatoes. Give it a gentle stir and serve hot.

The images of the saar are of those made without straining the ground coconut.

For the Whole-Food Plant-Based (WFPB) version:

Use rock salt instead of refined salt.

Grind the coconut to a very fine paste and do not strain it.

Use 2 soft dates or two tablespoons of sweet raisins soaked for a couple of hours instead of the sugar or jaggery. If the dates are not soft or the raisins are not soaked, cook them with the tomatoes. Blend the dates/raisins and then add them or if you are blending the tomatoes, you can blend them all together.

Do not use oil. Heat the iron tempering ladle and add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter, transfer them to the tomato mixture. Turn down the heat and add the curry leaves. Dry roast them till they release their aroma and begin to brown. Transfer them to the tomato mixture. Now add the asafoetida and roast it for around 5 to 10 seconds or till it releases its aroma. Take care not to let it burn. Transfer it to the tomato mixture. Stir gently and serve.

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