I’ve taken a ride on a carpet for today’s tomato dish. Not magic but hand woven silk from Uzbekistan, courtesy of Chris Alexander, author of A Carpet Ride to Khiva , Seven Years on the Silk Road.
Last week’s Guardian travel section ran an article featuring Chris’s description of hosting a tashkil – an Uzbek savings party. In shopping for the feast, tomatoes featured both in the text and in vivid red galore in a photo of the market. Curiosity and tomato envy aroused – I contacted Chris to see if he’d be kind enough to pass on a tomato recipe. He came back with his favourite; a Tajik dish called “krutob”.
Here’s Chris’s description:
Freshly-baked rounds of flaky-pastry are torn into chunks and placed in a large, flattish wooden bowl. Poured over this are reconstituted yoghurt balls ( it tastes nicer than it sounds), and slow-fried onions. This is topped with a generous amount of chopped tomatoes and cucumbers. The blend of the hot pastry and onions, with the cool yoghurt, tomatoes and cucumbers is part of its signature. You can eat it with a spoon or fork, but it’s really best eaten messily with fingers !
A few location tweaks were needed. I used Jus Rol puff pastry, and as yoghurt balls have yet to roll down the home counties supermarket aisles, I substituted plain natural yoghurt – which still blended very nicely with the hot onions.
I feel someone tucking into my version would perhaps look over at the hosting pot and wonder if they might’ve preferred to stay home and hang onto their cash instead – but perhaps if I’d served some grilled, spicy chicken on the side – they might’ve relented and thrown in their loose change on the way out!
With many thanks to Chris for the recipe.