Coconut based Tomato Curry

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Way back in my school days, we boarders, used to get tomato curry along with rice for lunch. I used to despise it and that aversion carried on for years. I am not sure how the curry we got at school was prepared. All I remember is a yellow curry with some ground coconut and tomatoes in it. Luckily we had an option of having buttermilk and so I would have my rice mixed with it instead of the curry. The seniors used to be very strict about wastage, in tune with school policies. The challenge was to somehow avoid having the curry as well as getting rid of it without getting caught. 🙂 I would happily offer to the needy ones ;-)…but unfortunately I don’t recollect anybody yearning for more… 🙂 Those were the days.. 🙂
A few years back, when we were in Kerala, my Mother-in-Law (MIL) declared that she was preparing tomato curry. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it was something I hated. I stood there, glumly watching her prepare the curry. The twist to her curry was adding dried shrimp powder at the end. During lunch, both J and D were going on praising the tomato curry. (I had opted for the fish curry instead :-)) Curiosity got the better of me and I finally tried it reluctantly. It was surprisingly lip smacking. Though when I prepare, it doesn’t taste exactly as hers, my efforts are still on to reach her level of expertise. Vegetarians can make this curry excluding the powdered Shrimp.

Coconut based Tomato Curry

Thakkali Thenga Arachu Vachathu is a coconut based tomato curry served with rice. Adding dried shrimp powder enhances the flavour of curry. However, That is optional.


  • 4 tomatoes quartered
  • 1 Onion sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric powder powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Red chilli powder
  • to taste Salt
  • 1 tablespoon Powdered dried shrimp (Optional)

To be ground

  • 3/4 cup Grated Coconut
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1/2 inch Ginger

For tempering

  • 3 teaspoons Oil
  • 2 sprigs Curry leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mustard seeds
  • 3 shallots thinly sliced


  • Grind all in ingredients to be ground with water till you get a very fine paste.
  • Heat an earthern pot or a pan of your choice and put oil in it.
  • Once heated, add the sliced onions and saute till they are transluscent.
  • Put in the tomatoes and stir till the tomatoes slightly softens.
  • Add the turmeric and chilli powder and mix well for a minute.
  • Add the ground paste and stir well.
  • Adjust the consistency by adding water.
  • Once it comes to a boil, add the shrimp powder, stir and turn off the heat.
  • In another pan, heat the oil and add mustard seeds.
  • Once it splutters, add the curry leaves and the shallots and fry till the shallots turn slightly brown in colour.
  • Turn off the heat and then add it to the curry.
  • Serve hot with Rice


For the powdered dried shrimp, if you have dried shrimp, just dry-roast them and then powder it.

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