How do I make my curry less tomatoey? (5+ tips)

In this brief article, we will answer the question “How do I make my curry less tomatoey” by providing you with tips on how to counteract the flavor of tomatoes. We will also tell you why you should add tomatoes in a curry and list down substitutes for when you do not have fresh tomatoes at home for making curry. 

How do I make my curry less tomatoey?

If your curry tastes too tomatoey, try one of these tricks:

  • Add a little bit of baking soda. Baking soda will increase the pH of the curry and reduce the acidity of the tomatoes.
  • Add a sweetener. Generally, sugar counteracts the overwhelming flavor of tomatoes. Add sugar until your desired taste is achieved. 
  • Alternatively, you can add any sweetener other than sugar like honey, brown sugar, or artificial sweeteners such as stevia.
  • Add a milk based product. You can add cream or coconut milk. Not only will these products tone down the overpowering tomatoey flavor, they will also give your curry a nice, smooth and velvety texture. You can also add yogurt.
  • Cook the tomatoes in oil first and then add the rest of your ingredients to get rid of the raw tomatoey taste.
  • Cook the tomatoes at least for 45 minutes so that the tomatoey flavor tones down a bit by the time the curry is completely cooked.

Is it necessary to add tomatoes in curry?

Tomato sauce together with onions make the base of almost all Indian curries for example chicken karahi, butter chicken, achari chicken. Tomatoes add a burst of flavor to the curry. They give off a tangy flavor and increase the acidity of an otherwise bland curry.

In Thai cuisine, however, tomato puree or tomato paste is added only to the Thai red curry. Other curries do not necessarily have tomatoes added in them. If you are not a fan of tomatoes, you can skip adding these. It will not have a major effect on the flavor profile of Thai curries.

Should I use tomato paste or tomato puree for curry?

You can use whichever one is available to you. However, tomato paste has a very strong flavor profile as it is concentrated so it will overpower the curry. Use it in moderation or do not use the tomato paste if you are not a fan of the strong tomato flavor.

Tomato puree gives a bit milder flavor as compared to the tomato paste. I personally believe homemade tomato puree tastes way better than canned tomato puree. Homemade tomato puree is also free of any flavor additives and preservatives. 

You can make homemade puree by boiling the tomatoes first so that their skins come off easily. After that, put them inside the blender and blend them until a desired consistency is reached. You can also stop blending when there are a few chunks left in it.

Alternatively, you can use diced tomatoes as well but always give them time long enough for them to cook fully and impart their flavor.

Learn more about the differences between tomato paste and tomato puree here.

What can I substitute for tomatoes in a curry?

Do not worry if you have run out of tomatoes and you really need to make a curry. We will list down some substitutes for tomatoes which might not give you the exact flavor profile, but they will nonetheless add an interesting taste to your curries. 

Lemon juice

Lemon juice will give you the same acidity and tangy flavor as the tomatoes would have. You can add other seasonings in it as well that you would have used in a tomato sauce like chili powder.

If you feel that the lemon juice is too acidic or overpowering, you can balance it out by adding cream or coconut milk.

Onions 

Indian curries use a mixture of onions and tomatoes so if you do not have tomatoes, add more onions to compensate for them. They will make the curry more flavorful.

Red bell peppers

Red bell peppers can be used in place of tomatoes as they have the same color and almost the same texture as tomatoes. You can also make a paste of bell peppers for curry.

Ginger and garlic

Ginger and garlic enhance the flavor of any dish they are added to. You can make their paste and add to the curry for an enhanced flavor profile. 

Other FAQs about Curry that you may be interested in.

What can I substitute for coconut milk in curry?

Differences Between Indian and Thai Curry

Can I use curry powder in place of curry paste?

Conclusion

In this brief article, we answered the question “How do I make my curry less tomatoey” by providing you with tips on how to counteract the flavor of tomatoes. We also told you why you should add tomatoes in a curry and listed down substitutes for when you do not have fresh tomatoes at home for making curry. 

Citations

https://elpasony.com/tomato-substitute-in-curry/
https://www.cooksillustrated.com/how_tos/6605-using-baking-soda-to-tone-down-tomato-sauce
https://cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/108989/butter-chicken-too-tomatoey

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.