An Indian side dish full of spice and heat. The yogurt tempers everything and complements the sweet, slightly acidic tomato flavor. You need to peel the tomatoes here. They don’t cook long enough for the skin to become soft and the skin prevents the flavor of the sauce from penetrating the flesh of the tomatoes. If you don’t want to bother with the boiling water method to skin tomatoes, you can peel them with a serrated knife. The yogurt sauce is good with other vegetables, too, though they may need to be cooked first.

6 tomatoes, firm if possible
1 t vegetable oil
2 t cumin seeds
1 t (brown) mustard seeds
2 T butter, or more vegetable oil
1/2 t turmeric
1/4 t cayenne
3 cloves garlic, minced, or to taste
1 – 2 fresh chiles, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1 t salt
1 1/2 c plain yogurt
cilantro or basil, for garnish, optional

1. Peel tomatoes: Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Meanwhile, have a bowl of ice or very cold water at the ready. Make an ‘X’ in the bottom of the tomatoes. Put into the boiling water, two or three at a time, for about 30 seconds. Transfer to the cold water. Let cool. Drain. Peel–the skins should slip off rather easily. Core and set aside, whole.

2. In a deep-sided skillet or Dutch oven, heat the oil. Add the cumin seeds and mustard seeds. Cover and listen for the seeds to begin to pop, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, wait a bit, then remove cover. Return to element and add butter or oil, allowing butter to melt.

3. Add turmeric and cayenne and sauté for about a minute. Add garlic, chiles, and salt, and cook, stirring, for another minute or so. Reduce heat to low and add yogurt, stirring until the sauce is smooth.

4. Gently add tomatoes, spooning sauce over them. Cook at low heat (high heat will cause the yogurt to curdle) for 5 – 10 minutes. You want the tomatoes to be warmed through but not too cooked or they will begin to fall apart and become sauce.

5. Serve with sauce over each tomato and garnished with fresh herb.