August 29, 2019
Life can take unexpected turns. Call it karma or misfortune, but I managed to temporarily lose the use of both my forearms and hands this summer. First, at the beginning of spring, my right forearm went out of commission because of a severe burn. My left hand took charge and sprang into action, and though I relinquished most of my cooking duties at the restaurants, I was sill able to cook at home. A few months later, just as my right arm was beginning to recover, my left ended up in a cast after a wrist fracture. I was forced to rethink my cooking process - and this masala is among the recipes that emerged. Simple became a keyword, and oven cooking that required minimal stirring took on a whole new appeal. Fresh masalas like this one are wealth in my refrigerator. I can enjoy it cold on a piece of warm toast or toss it into freshly steamed rice or pasta with chopped fresh herbs. Or keep it simple and eat the masala on sliced cucumbers.
Makes 3 to 4 cups
1 1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes
1 cup minced red onions
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup diced ripe fresh figs
Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine half the cherry tomatoes, onions, olive oil, garlic, salt, turmeric, cardamom, and black pepper and place in a cast-iron skillet or a heavy-duty pan. Cover tightly with foil.
Bake in the oven for 60 to 90 minutes or until the onions have cooked and reduced to a golden caramel color and the tomatoes are soft and jam-like. Depending on the consistency and circulation of the heat of the oven, this may take less or more time, so check the tomatoes every 20 minutes to ensure they are not burning.
Stir in the remaining tomatoes and diced figs and cook the mixture uncovered for another 10 to 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Use the best quality organic tomatoes available. If substituting regular tomatoes for cherry tomatoes, make sure to use the heirloom variety.
This masala is almost like a preserve; it will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. It can also be turned into a preserve by placing into jars and canning it.
To amp up the spice, add a teaspoon of chile powder.
December 02, 2022