Green Tomato Curry with Peanuts and Yellow Split Peas is a delicious and easy way to use up the last of the tomato harvest. For that matter, I would grow tomatoes just to pick them underripe and make this!
It is not often I get to wax poetic on this site about a savory dish right as I am eating it, because I am consistently a little behind (if not a lot behind, as is the case now). But my sister sent me a big pile of green tomatoes, and I know we are at the very end of green tomato season, at least up north, and so I wanted to share this recipe with you right away.
Because oh my goodness it is that good.
The recipe is inspired by a Green Tomato and Peanut Curry that an Indian woman back in Ohio used to sell at the local farmers’ market. It was fiery hot and absolutely delicious. Keeping in mind that I cannot access the majority of my cookbooks, when I went looking for a green tomato curry everything was super fresh and barely cooked, whereas her curry was a lot more cooked down. Also, the curries I found online were not really one pot meals, they were just green tomato dishes. They clearly valued the crisp tender texture of green tomatoes.
So I split the difference, and created my own green tomato curry. I cooked a separate pot of yellow split peas, and added them to the curry for protein (and actually the yellow split peas complemented the peanuts beautifully). For the green tomatoes, I added half of the green tomatoes early in the cooking process, to cook down into a sauce, but then added the remaining half later in the process, to retain their crisp texture.
In case I haven’t made it clear, it really worked well! I loved this green tomato curry–I ate it for breakfast, lunch and dinner! John loved it too. The kids were ok with it, but I think it was just a little too unfamiliar for them. Or something. We’ll ignore them in this case. If you like sweet, sour, nutty and a little salty, this is the curry for you!
- For the yellow split peas:
- 1 cup yellow split peas
- water to cover by 2 inches
- 1/4 t turmeric
- 1/4 t paprika or cayenne
- 1 t salt
- For the curry:
- 2 T vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 T brown mustard seeds
- 1 1/2 T cumin seeds
- small handful curry leaves
- 2 large onions, chopped
- salt to taste
- 2 T minced garlic
- 2 T ginger paste
- 1/4 t turmeric
- 1/4 t paprika
- 1/4 t cayenne
- 1 1/2 T ground coriander
- 1 1/2 T ground cumin
- 5 large green tomatoes cut into chunks, divided
- 1/2 cup finely chopped peanuts (I used roasted and salted)
- 1/2 cup water divided
- 1/4 cup muscovado brown sugar or jaggery or brown sugar plus a little molasses
- 1 t garam masala
- juice of half juicy lime to taste*
- 1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves and fine stems
- 1 cup scant whole roasted and salted peanuts
Place the yellow split peas in a medium saucepan and cover with water by 2 inches. Add the turmeric and paprika or cayenne. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer briskly until the split peas are tender. Add the salt toward the end of cooking.
While the split peas are cooking, begin the curry. Heat a large, heavy pot (I prefer enameled cast iron) over medium high heat. Add the oil and mustard seeds. Partially cover the pot, to allow steam to escape but to contain the popping mustard seeds.
When the mustard seeds slow in their popping, add the cumin seeds and curry leaves (be careful--the leaves will splatter!). Let the spices roast, until the cumin seeds have darkened and are fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Add the chopped onions with a pinch of salt. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are translucent and starting to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Keep some water by your stovetop, so if the onions start to scorch or stick, you can add a splash of water and stir.
Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric and ground dried chile peppers. Stir and cook for another 3 minutes.
Add the ground coriander, ground cumin, and half of the green tomatoes with a pinch of salt. Stir. Cook for 2 minutes.
Add the chopped peanuts and 1/4 cup water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the water cooks off, at least 5 minutes.
Add another 1/4 cup water and the remaining green tomatoes with another pinch of salt. Add the muscovado brown sugar. Stir.
Cook for 5 minutes.
Add the cooked yellow split peas with their cooking liquid. Stir and cook for 5 minutes to blend flavors.
When you are ready to serve, add the garam masala, lime juice*, cilantro and peanuts. Taste for salt or more lime juice. Serve with basmati rice or flatbread.
*Note that you will need fresh lime juice each time you reheat these leftovers.
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Jean Dahlquist says
Looks delicious, and awesome use of split peas. They have such a strong flavor that I find it hard to use them. But they are so cheap and so good for you! Might have to try this…
Xanthe Coulson says
Sorry, but I found this underwhelming and too complicated, given the end result. The varied curry spices didn’t really harmonise – a supermarket bought spice mix would have done just as well.
I am sorry you felt that way. We have made it multiple times and loved it every time.
This curry was absolutely amazing! So glad to find a use for green tomatoes that isn’t chutney 😀
Yay!! And I agree! It is a fall regular for us.
Mollie Baxter says
Copying it into my recipe book now! Great recipe – finally something delicious using green tomatoes. I’m looking forward to trying this with mushrooms next now all our tomatoes are eaten!
Yay! I love this one too, I come back to it every fall.
Absolutely delicious!! My 17 year old pronounced it ‘a keeper’!
Question : can I freeze it?
Glad you loved it! As I mentioned in the headnotes, I tried to retain some of the crisp tender texture of the tomatoes by adding them later in the cooking process. I fear that will be lost if you freeze it. But if you are ok with that, freezing it should be fine. The original green tomato curry that I first loved was always frozen first and the tomatoes were quite cooked down, so the texture did not suffer from freezing.
Jacintha Manchester says
I agree with the fact it is a lengthy description which makes it difficult to adapt for, say , a slow cooker. Why use garam masala which has already 2 of the spices in it? Making spice mix separately would be easier. It is also very salty so used blanched peanuts briefly roasted in pan. Not soaking peas overnight adds 45 mins to cooking time. Nice but not something to cook after a busy day at work, good point to flag up!
Garam Masala has a lot more than just cumin and coriander in it, it should never have turmeric, and also it varies wildly by household. A good garam masala (unlike a lot of the commercially prepared ones) should not be that heavy on cumin and coriander. So when you add garam masala you are adding a lot more than just cumin and coriander (mine leans heavily toward cinnamon, cloves, cardamom with smaller hints of others as well). It is traditionally added at the end as a “warming” note. Making it separately would be far more difficult. To be honest, you have suggested several steps that add more time while also wanting to streamline the recipe. I confess that confuses me.
I cannot tell if you made the recipe–it is not too salty for us but if you want to blanch the peanuts go for it! Or you could just buy them unsalted. I personally prefer this recipe not made in a slow cooker as I want some of the green tomatoes to be more crisp-tender, as I discussed in the headnotes. Everyone has their own cooking rhythms–for me, if I start the split peas and then prep and cook the rest of it, the split peas are ready when I need them to be. Having said all of that, I have always preferred an approach to cooking that enjoys the process and layers the flavors. And leaves some texture in the form of crunchy peanuts and crisp-tender tomatoes. Even when I use my slow cooker I brown the meat in a pan and then brown the onions before beginning the slow cooking. To each their own–if the recipe looks good to you and you are used to just dumping everything in a slow cooker and walking away then give that a try and let us know how it is!