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North Indian tomato dish warms cooler days

A chill in the air portends the inevitable end of summer. In the meantime, it’s still peak season for heat-loving tomatoes.

Cooler temperatures, however, herald more than tomato canning. I’m craving dishes with warming spices and a little burn after a summer’s worth of recipes to beat the heat.

This North Indian vegetarian dish packs a punch, which isn’t always the case in that region of the subcontinent. Simply titled “tomato and onion,” it comes courtesy of the Washington Post and its 2015 Top Tomato recipe contest, cited in this blog’s previous post. It’s a mainstay in the home of Anand Seth of Potomac, Md., a contest finalist.

See if it measures up for your family’s summer-into-fall menus.

Tamatar Piaz

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin seed

2 medium yellow onions, cut in half lengthwise, then peeled and thinly sliced lengthwise into half-moons

4 large garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

1/2-inch piece ginger root, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed

4 medium tomatoes, firm but ripe, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced lengthwise into medium-thin half-moons (1 3/4 to 2 pounds total)

Leaves from 6 stems cilantro, minced or left whole (for garnish)

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Once oil shimmers, add the cumin seed; cook until they turn a darker brown, for 45 seconds to 1 minute, then add the onions and stir to coat with oil. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring frequently, until onions become slightly translucent; add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the turmeric and cayenne pepper (to taste) and the teaspoon of salt; cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes, then stir in the tomatoes, cover and cook for 2 minutes.

Uncover, stir, then cover again and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Uncover; cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring frequently, until almost all liquid has evaporated and onions are tender and translucent. Taste, and add salt as needed.

Garnish with the minced or whole cilantro leaves. Serve warm. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Photo by Scott Suchman for The Washington Post.