Tamatar ka Saalan

I remember my Ammi used to prepare all the dishes she wanted to serve at parties and events which my parents used to host during our childhood with her own two hands in her own little kitchen. Sometimes a maid would come for help when the party was large, but it was all under Ammi‘s strict supervision. She never opted for ordering food from a catering company or something like that. I have very vague memories when my mother was young and we were little kids, of the parties and the array of traditional food she used to prepare. I did not have an interest in cooking back then. I never entered the kitchen to help Ammi with parathas in the mornings or helping her with cutting and preparing vegetables on the weekends at the least. I regret, I wish I had paid attention and worked along with her. I was either busy studying, or being rebellious like a typical teenage child. It was only when I choose Nutrition as my subject that my curiosity for cooking evolved.

Today I call my Ammi and ask her on the phone of the doubts I get, but I lost the best chance of actually learning from her in action. I have learnt that sitting and enjoying meals in ones parents house is a blessing. But one should try to develop interest in all that is offered for them to learn at their parents house, from learning their mothers cooking, to the hobbies they master, to the little traditions they follow, because life while at parents house is the best time to learn from the best teachers you will ever get in your life. Parents should also encourage children to develop interest in learning to cook and teach them from a tender age, atleast so that they get in touch with their traditional activities and so that all that does not get lost with time. I am glad alhamdulillah I am able to document and preserve my family’s recipes through my blog, and this way help many young woman alongside as well.

Just like the famous Mirchi ka Saalan and Baghare Baingan, Tamatar ka Saalan is also ubiquotous to Hyderabadi cuisine. All these three mentioned curries, the perfect sides to a Biryani, have the same base gravy, with only brinjals in Baghare Baingan, chillies in Mirchi ka Saalan and tomatoes here in Tamatar ka Saalan. You can also add fish to the same curry base and you get Machli ka Saalan. I have used cherry tomatoes for the curry. Usually regular tomatoes are used which are simply cut into two halves. Tamatar ka Saalan is also referred to as Bagharay Tamatar by some people.

Cherry Tomatoes

Whenever in Hyderabad, I recommend food enthusiasts to attend high class weddings of traditional muslim Hyderabadi families in order to get in touch with the traditional Hyderabadi food which is not very easily available in restaurants or hotels. Or if you are lucky, enjoy home cooked traditional meals locally at a friends house.

Tamatar ka Saalan/Bagharay Tamatar – Tomatoes simmered in a creamy fragrant sauce


Cherry Tomatoes – 8 (or medium sized tomatoes, each cut into two semi circles)
For masala paste:
Khus Khus/White Poppy seeds – 1 tbsp
Till/Sesame Seeds – 1/2 cup/50 gms
Groundnuts/MoomPhalli – 1/2 cup/50 gms
Dry Desiccated Coconut – 3/4 cup/50 gms
Coriander seeds/Dhania – 1 tsp
For gravy:
Canola oil – 1/4 cup
Yellow Onions – 3, large, each quartered into 4 pieces
Ginger garlic paste – 2 tsp
Salt – 1 tbsp
Red Chilli Powder – 2 tsp
Turmeric/ Haldi – 1/4 tsp
Cilantro/ Kothmir – 3 tbsp, finely chopped
Thick tamarind pulp – 3 tbsp
For baghaar/tempering:
Cumin seeds/ Zeera – 1 tsp
Curry leaves/ Kariyapaak – 2 sprigs
Mustard seeds/ Rai – 1/2 tsp
Nigella seeds/ Kalaunji – 1/3 tsp
Fenugreek seeds/ Methi dana – 1/8 tsp

Tamatar ka Saalan/Bagharay Tamatar – Tomatoes simmered in a creamy fragrant sauce


1. Wash the cherry tomatoes well. Discard the stalks and make four incisions, perpendicular cuts (an X) from the stem end of each cherry tomato, taking care the other end is intact. Keep aside.
2. Puree the onions into a smooth paste. Also, smoothly/finely grind all the ingredients seperately under the heading ‘for masala paste’ adding just a few drops of water if needed.
3. Heat oil in a heavy non-stick pan at medium heat and as soon as it is warm, add the baghaar ingredients – cumin seeds, curry leaves, mustard seeds, nigella seeds and fenugreek seeds. Once they start spluttering, add the pureed onion paste and mix. Cover with a lid for a minute. Uncover and keep frying until the raw smell of the onions goes away. Add ginger garlic paste, salt, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and chopped cilantro and the masala paste and mix well. Keep cooking until the raw smell of the masala paste goes away and you can see the paste leaving oil on the sides. Add a few drops of water if needed during the process. This might take about 5-10 minutes. Later add tamarind pulp and mix well. Now pour in about 4-5 cups of water (or less) and mix. Let it come to a boil. Once boiling, add the prepared tomatoes and cover with a lid. Let cook for 5 minutes. Once the tomatoes are soft, remove from heat and serve the curry along with Pulao or Biryani. (In the picture you can see that I have prepared a loose consistency of the curry. You can cook it furthur until you achieve the desired consistency. The preferred consistency of this curry is semi-loose.)

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17 Responses to “Tamatar ka Saalan”

  1. This is one of the most amazing dishes with tomatoes Mona.Perfect with steamed rice.Love it.Mom’s dishes are always the best.

  2. wow thanks for introducing this,..:-)
    will go perfect with biryani

  3. Such an inviting salan,drooling here..

  4. Kalyani Aggarwal Says:

    Mona, what you said about learning in parents house while you can is so true. Amount of tomatoes in salan seems too little especially if you are using cherry tomatoes


    Kalyani, you can more if you wish. My husband is not a big fan of tomatoes, so I didnt add many.

  5. Mona! This looks yumm! Mere moonh mein paani agaya!
    BTW is it the same curry that used to be served in weddings along with Biryani long time back? These days don’t find it on the tables!

    Uzma, yes it is the same curry you are talking about.

  6. I grew up in Hyderabad and I have had the first two but not this one. i have to try it some day.

  7. Hi,
    Thank you for the recipe. I will try it. Your thoughts about the childhood and parent’s kitchen is true. You made me think abt my childhood and feel the same way you do. Thank you for that also…

  8. This is so yummy we make a similar curry with just coconut.

  9. This is the most original curry I have seen so far! I love the fact that it is based on tomatoes, yet it seems so rich in flavors.

  10. hi,
    Thanks for all yre recipes..ive tried very few but they turned out awesome…in regards to todays post..does the final colour of the tamatar salan look as light as yr pic above?? i remember it being more red!! will try it though and let you know.

    Saleena, for a more red color, you can add more red chilli powder if you want.

  11. i love the way you cook these cherry tomatoes !!!Bravo
    Cheers from France !!!
    Pierre de Paris

  12. That really sounds good!

  13. this is awesome, Mona! I can’t wait to try it..

  14. This sounds delicious! Have bookmarked 🙂

  15. i tried it the other dayy it turned it GREATTTT….thanks for the recipe 🙂 i appreciate what u r doing!keep up the good work 🙂

  16. This sounds delicious and it looks yummy. Do you dry roast the khus khus and sesame seeds and copra before grinding?

    Roshni, there is no need to dry roast the spices before grinding in this version, as the masala paste is cooked thoroughly until the raw smell of the masala goes away while cooking the curry.

  17. Salamalaikum Monaji,
    I am Nayeem from Saudi Arabia, Al Baha city.
    I Shall try this recipe. as soon as possible.
    o.k Allah hafiz, Maa salama.

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