Indian Spiced Fried Green Tomatoes

Another recent dinner that was inspired by my weekly CSA bag. I had green tomatoes and fennel that I needed to use as well as a bunch of cucumbers, hot peppers and yogurt I had gotten at the Dupont Circle farmers market the previous Sunday.

I knew straight away that I wanted to fry the green tomatoes. Usually I do fried green tomatoes with goat cheese and a spicy red pepper sauce. However, not having any of those ingredients around and needing to use up fennel and cucumber I decided to go a different route and make a fennel and cucumber chutney to top my tomatoes.

Cucumber-Fennel Chutney

After a little bit of research into how to make a proper chutney (this article on about.com proved particularly helpful) I started in on my spice mixture. I toasted about half a teaspoon each of

I ground my spice mixture in a mortar and pestle with some salt and then fried it in hot grapeseed oil. Then I added some minced ginger and two seeded and minced fresh hot chiles. I fried those for a few seconds and then added two small bulbs of diced fennel. Once the fennel was just a bit soft I added 3 small diced cucumbers. I let the mixture cook for 10 minutes or so until everything was nicely softened and combined. After a taste I decided it wasn’t quite spicy enough, so I added another chile, seeds and all. Then I finished the chutney with a quarter cup or so each of sherry vinegar and simple syrup.

Cucumber Mint Raita

The chutney was quite spicy, so I decided I needed a dairy element to cool things off. I took about half a cup of the Blue Ridge Farms yogurt and pureed it with a couple of sprigs of fresh mint. Then I brunoised a cucumber to give the mixture a bit of texture and crunch and set it aside.

Fried Green Tomato

The last thing I needed to put together was the fried green tomato. I took the rest of my spice mixture and added it to some cornmeal to form the base of my breading mixture. I dipped each tomato slice in the cornmeal mixture, an egg wash and finally into panko breadcrumbs. I fried the tomato on each side for 2-3 minutes, until it was nice and golden brown.

To plate I put a slice of fried green tomato down on the plate, topped it with a bit of the chutney and a little bit of raita, then sandwiched on another tomato slice. Originally I was going to stack all three tomato slices on top of one another, but it got too high, so I leaned one slice on the side of my tower. I scattered some chutney around the outside of the plate and drizzled the raita on top of everything. The last little element was chopping up some of the fennel fronds and scattering them over the plate.

So how was it?

Pretty good. The chutney was by far the star of the plate. It was spicy, sweet, sour and savory all at once. The spice mixture gave it a nice, complex flavor that was very Indian and the chiles gave it a great heat. Definitely an idea I’m going to hold on to.

The tomatoes were decent. The crust was great and it was well fried, but it didn’t hold together. The crust came off very easily and didn’t really stick to the tomato at all. Maybe it was because I used cornmeal as my base instead of flour, maybe it was because I didn’t dip the tomato into egg first before the cornmeal, but whatever it wasn’t quite right.

Overall, though it could definitely use some tweaking, this was a successful dish. The chutney was a revelation and is an idea I’m going to use again. The raita was simple, but nice. It added a cooling element to the plate and a tanginess that played well with the chutney. Get the tomatoes right and this is an A+.

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~ by Remy on July 8, 2010.

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