In the Caribbean, this tomato choka recipe is often described as a delicious Trinidadian dish made with tomatoes, onion, garlic, pepper and seasonings.
But it is not a Trini dish.
It has origins in India from places like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh (where many laborers came from post-1838/ post-slavery). There, the dish is called tomato chokhaa or bharta or bhurtha and is served with rice or roti. It’s made and served the same way here; almost two centuries later!
Making choka involves grilling or roasting a vegetable on an open flame; then mashing it and mixing in oil, spices and seasonings.
Tomato and eggplant (baigan) choka are the two most popular chokas made on the islands. And trust me, they taste amazing.
This is the traditional way of making tomato choka.
Roasting the tomatoes causes the skin to char; which infuses a delicious smoky flavor into the vegetable. The depth of flavor is incredible.
For this recipe I used small red tomatoes from the garden. They weren’t all completely ripe (hence the yellow spots), but that won’t affect the flavor. Garlic cloves, onion, oil, salt, pepper and seasoning like Caribbean green seasoning or culantro, or cilantro are also needed.
Now, this is Caribbean/ Indian cuisine; so you can make adjustments here.
You can use more garlic cloves if you love that roasted garlic smell and flavor. Or if you are no fan of raw onions, you can pre-cook them or leave them out of the recipe altogether. Also, for a healthier dish, you can eliminate the oil.
It’s truly all up to you and your preferences.
To start, wash the tomatoes and garlic and place them over an open flame. Here you can use a grill basket like I do. Or you can try a grill rack or even skewers. The whole point is to get the veggies nice and charred.
Turn the veggies often to make sure you get a nice even char on everything. The garlic is usually the first to completely cook and char, so remove from the heat. And just let me say, that roasted garlic smell is the best thing ever!
Continue roasting until the skin of the tomatoes are nice and burnt.
Remove from the flame and add to a bowl of cool water for a couple seconds. This makes it easy to remove the charred skin (and itwon’t burn you!). Peel the garlic too.
Mash everything together and add the onion, pepper, seasonings and salt to taste. Warm the oil and mix it in.
Tomato Choka Recipe
Tomato Choka Recipe
- 6 red tomatoes (large)
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 onion (diced)
- 1 tsp oil (coconut or mustard)
- seasoning (Caribbean green seasoning, culantro, or cilantro)
- Wash tomatoes and garlic. Place them on an open flame (you can use skewers, a wire grill rack or grill basket or just lay them directly on the stove burner).
- Turn the tomatoes and garlic to ensure even charring. The skins should become black and the tomatoes should soften.
- Once soft, remove from flame. Add to a bowl of cold water for a few seconds.
- Next, carefully peel the tomato and garlic skin.
- Mash the tomato flesh and garlic.
- Mix in diced onion, pepper, seasonings and salt.
- Warm the oil and add to the choka.
Serve with roti for a wonderful Caribbean breakfast; or serve with rice and dhal (split peas) for a hearty lunch.