Trouble with Tomatoes


Trouble follows me….My workload has been growing and my troubles have also been growing…more about that some other time.  The growing workload and not having a day off in about two months has made me a little grumpy – I sometimes think if it wasn’t for my fabulous speedy dinners, I wouldn’t have any fans at home!  


On a positive note, I was asked to be the guest chef at the Hobart Superspar in Bryanston.  I go into the store three times a week and cook up exciting new dishes.  Its been a blast.  Its also reminded me how much I love the buzz of a commercial kitchen.  Boy, do I miss my happy restaurant days at Salaam Bombay where everyday was a new adventure!  The best part of being a guest chef is I get to try loads of new products and experiment with them too. One of these products has been tinned tomatoes.  I have never been a fan of the tinned tomato but have been using them at the Spar due to a shortage of good, ripe fresh tomatoes.  Tomatoes are obviously one of the most important ingredients in preparing a delicious curry and I was pleasantly surprised that the Spar tinned variety works really well.  


Its no secret that I have become a Spar shopper as I am usually in store about four times a week to either promote my range of spices, Curry Me Home, or as the guest chef.  I grew up in a home where we never experimented with new foods and new brands.  We bought what we knew and what everyone else was buying.  But only buying what you are familiar with can deprive you of many new opportunities.  One thing I have learned from my travels is that South African consumers are not only spoilt for choice, but the choices are often great quality at reasonable prices.  Maybe we don’t realise this because we have been brain washed by the generations before us.  Yes, we are a Sunlight Liquid, Handy Andy and Lux Soap society!  Is it time for a change?  Look around!  Try new products!! 

Anyway, back to the troublesome tomatoes…even the local Fruit and Veg City only had the greener under- ripe firm tomatoes, so my assistant, the lovely Nothando, picked up a few tins of the Spar brand ‘Whole Peeled Tomatoes’ when she was doing my shopping.        

I got home really late and only had about fifteen minutes to prepare dinner. I rummaged through the refrigerator and found a leftover chicken which needed some rescuing.  Being short on time and without fresh tomatoes, I reluctantly opted for the tinned variety instead –my happy learning experience for the day!  Also, I am trying to make fewer creamy sauces these days –  I do get the evil eye from Rob when I use cream…he says its his cholesterol trouble.  I think its more likely a lot to do with my curvy new look!


Here’s how I made a speedy dinner in ten minutes….


40ml sunflower oil

1 onion, finely chopped

5ml coarse salt

5ml crushed garlic

1 tin Spar Whole Peeled Tomatoes, roughly chopped

125ml white wine

500g roasted deboned chicken

15ml Curry Me Home Magic Masala

Handful of fresh coriander


And if you want to spice things up…..


Grown Ups Drizzle – Optional

4 chopped chillies

50ml olive oil

Pinch of salt


Here’s how you do it:


Heat the sunflower oil in a thick bottomed pot.  Add the onions and coarse salt.  Saute until the onions are translucent.  Add the crushed garlic and fry for a few seconds until fragrant.  Add the chopped tomatoes and stir for a few seconds.  Use a wooden spoon to break the tomatoes down.  When the tomatoes soften, pour in the wine and simmer for a 2 minutes.  Add the deboned chicken and the Magic Masala.  Simmer until the chicken is heated and the wine has evaporated. Chop the fresh coriander and sprinkle it over the chicken.  Place the chopped chillies, olive oil and salt in a little bowl.  Stir well to combine.  Leave aside to infuse for a few minutes.  Serve the chicken on a bed of pasta or rice (I used macaroni – this was my only option).  Spoon some of the ‘Grown Ups Drizzle’ over if you want to spice the chicken up.  




This is what I learnt: 

I think Nothando is an angel for picking up the Spar tinned tomatoes…I am thankful that she puts up with me.  

When in doubt, add tinned tomatoes rather than cream – it works and its so much better for you. 

Old is not gold in the foodie world so give some new brands a bash.