May 9, 2012

The quick appetizer-dip-chutney- "Bilati Baigana Poda" (Spicy roasted tomato salsa)

Typically, Indian meals are one course meals with several small portions served up together on the same platter at the same time.The overall meal is prepared keeping in mind the coherence of the dishes and their comprehensive flavor.So when I began planning the menu, the appetizer did not quite feature at all. Truly, it all came together in that one moment as I lay on my bed watching Rachael Ray on TV, unwinding after finishing up preparations for dinner.Watching her give her own spin to salsa, I wondered - How about making a quick roasted tomato salsa as a dip for some store bought tortilla chips? So in that one moment, thankfully, it all came together.

Prior to that, many-a-times on visits to Mexican restaurants, I have always pondered on the similarity of Salsa Fresca and our own "Tamata poda chutney". For newbies,Salsa Fresca is a very popular Latin American dip/sauce made of raw tomatoes, onions, jalapeno chilies, chopped cilantro and a dash of lemon juice. Its fresh and utterly delightful. Commonly eaten with tortilla chips, its my most favorite dip of all the assorted relishes available.As much as I love salsa, I am a die-hard buff of this roasted version which is a typical Odia side dish.This dish usually accompanies rice, dal, and bhaja (dry vegetable side dish). Its simplicity, ease of preparation and the spurt of spicy, tangy freshness manages to win me over - always. 

Spicy roasted tomato salsa or "Bilati Baigana Poda"

Ripe red tomatoes are slathered with mustard oil and roasted over direct flame until the skin is charred and is soft to touch. Flame roasting the tomatoes concentrates the tanginess and adds a hint of smokiness which elevates it to a whole new flavor level. To top it all, a dash of mustard oil to the relish adds a piquancy that definitely delivers THE final  punch to the good ol' Salsa fresca. Its a very healthy substitute for cheesy dips and fatty sandwich spreads. So eat on!

4 Ripe tomatoes.
1 Serrano chili (Want it to be more spicy?..add Thai chili instead)
1/4 th Onion chopped finely
1/4 th C chopped cilantro
1/8 th tsp red chili powder
Salt to taste
1/8 th tsp Sugar
Dash of lemon
1/2 tsp Mustard oil
1. Wash and dry the tomatoes. Slather them with mustard oil or vegetable oil and place them under the broiler or over direct flame and keep turning them around.
2. Once charred and soft, let it cool down a bit.
3. Then take off the skin.It should easily peel off.
4. Mash the roasted tomatoes separately and add to it chopped onions, cilantro, chilies.
5. Season well with salt, a pinch of sugar, a pinch of red chili powder and a dash of lemon juice.
6. Optional: Traditionally, we add a dash of mustard oil at the very end for that piquancy. Opt out if you don't cherish raw mustard oil flavor.

Wait for 5-10 mins for all flavors to meld together before serving.

Note: Usually roasted directly over the stove,I used the broiler in the oven to avoid the mess of dripping tomato juice on the stove.However, the tomatoes HAVE to be charred over direct flame (either under the broiler or over the stove- take your pick) for that charred smokiness which is not achieved when roasted in an oven.

Try this out next time you have friends over for a movie night or just as an appetizer for a dinner party and I promise that you would never think of going back to the raw Salsa fresca or even for that matter, its numerous preservative-laden bottled versions. This salsa keeps very well in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Use it as a dip, a side dish or even as a filling for your sandwiches.It was a super hit with all my guests at my birthday dinner. For the entire menu for the evening, continue here.

Have fun roasting while munching along with those chips!

P.s: I am sending this recipe to:
 - "Guest Quest" hosted by Amina
 - "Walk through memory lane" by Jayanthi and Gayatri.
 - "Mom's recipe" hosted by Sravs. 
 - "Fast food not food" hosted by Kalyani and Priya.
 - Jiya for "Exhibit every bite"

 - "Let's cook with fruits" hosted by Nayna


  1. Awesome...was just looking on youtube for the recipe and found it here on your portal

    1. Am glad u did :) Hope it turned out as expected :)

  2. Love the color of the salsa and can imagine the burst of fresh flavors. Chips and salsa are absolute match made in it.

    1. Chips and salsa..yumm!! its a healthy one no guilt! ;)

  3. Love this .. I have a draft on this as well. Should have it out soon..once I make this again sometime soon. Love the tangy and smoky flavors! :)

    1. isn't it great! its my favorite to go easy recipe :) would love to read your version.

  4. salsa looks fantastic. such a vibrant color.

  5. Looks yummy.. Thanks for linking it up

    ONgoing event:

  6. Refreshing and colourful thanks for linking it.


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