These rukh tamatar or tree tomatoes (Tamarillos) I am amazed at the types of different vegetables and greens available in the mountain state of Sikkim. Most people living along the roads and uphill walkways grow their own vegetables and we found many small vegetable vendors selling local produce gathered from Jungles or their own backyards. Interestingly, we found almost everyone grew one or the other variety or Orchids or Succulents too in pots for decoration. Life doesn't cease to be beautiful even if it is tough and arduous for mountain people.
On our way to Rumtek monastery, we saw this young chap selling a few vegetables and Guava just outside the entrance to the monastery. I was not in a mood to buy any vegetables there as I had already planned to visit the huge vegetable market (Laal bazar) of Gangtok, but decided to talk to this guy, realised he was an autistic person and immediately decided to buy whatever he had.
It meant I had to carry some heavy stuff uphill and then downhill for some time. But I had set my heart on it. This handsome guy posed for us, called a girl to us to explain how the vegetables will be cooked.
The girl laughed at us first, which tourist buys vegetables? Do you even know how to cook them? She knew plains people wont know. But then she patiently explained and I typed on my phone. I love such pleasures...
Loved the message written on his T shirt too. Imagine all the people living life in peace. We bought the Beeh and the Rukh tamatar from him. We were told the Rukh tamatar were tart and needed to be made into pickle.
I was thinking of a north Indian style pickle till the girl explained to me it has to be roasted first and then mashed with mustard oil and chilly to make the achar (pickle). Then I was reminded of how Nepali people make instant pickles for daily consumption and those are nothing but hot and sour chutney type preparations. I had got my clue. Recipe duly noted down I was smiling at myself again for falling into the trap of buying vegetables from street vendors. In the most unimaginable of places :-)
ingredients for the achar (pronounce asar in local language)..
Rukh tamatar 3 nos.
dallae khorsani (sikkimese hot chillies) 1
salt to taste
mustard oil 1tbsp
grill the tree tomatoes on gas flame till the outer skin is charred. Turn them after every 2-3 minutes so they get grilled evenly all around.
Let them cool down, then peel and chop using a sharp knife or just mash with a fork. The insides of the fruit is very brightly colored and juicy even if the skin looks pale and dull. It surprises you when you chop it. The flavor is somewhere between tart plums and tomatoes.
Mix with the finely chopped chilly, salt to taste and mustard oil.
Mix well and it is ready to eat. Enjoy with anything you wish, as a dip for crackers or nachos or as a side dish. We loved them with Methi paratha, baked kachoris and with every meal we had during this time.
The consistency of this achar is like dip or chutney as I said, it keeps well in the fridge for 3-4 days. May be more but it didn't last more in my case.
The taste and the flavor of this dallae khorsani (the round chilly) adds to the flavor of this chutney definitely. Making the tree tomato's fruity tart flavor enriched with a spicy note.
I noticed the fruit is quite rich in pectin when i pulped it in the mixie and refrigerated. It became like a jelly pleasantly. These would make a very flavorful jam too I am sure. Next time I get my hands on these, I am going to experiment making Jams with them.
This time, the asar (pickle/chutney/dip) was my trap. Couldn't think of not making it again with the remaining 3 of them Tree tomatoes ...