Processed vs. Fresh Tomatoes: What makes sense for Indian curries?
Tomatoes are at the heart of Indian cuisine. From North India’s famous butter chicken to the country’s Southern region staples rasam and sambhar, tomato is undoubtedly the key element in Indian cooking. It is tomato that brings the sweet-tangy flavour and rich red colour in Indian curries, chutneys, dals, sauces and soups and gives it the distinct flavour the cuisine is known for.
While tomatoes are present in every Indian kitchen and are a regular feature in many dishes, one question that has always been debated by chefs and food service industry is whether to use fresh tomatoes or processed tomato products, such as crushed tomatoes or purees.
Given their higher concentration of flavour, processed tomato products get a big thumbs up for the richer and stronger taste, along with the beautiful red colour they bring to a dish. However, it has been a popular opinion that with good taste, some health benefits of tomatoes are lost during processing. There is also a mindset that processed tomato products are not healthy, since most of the health benefits of tomatoes are lost during processing. Although this is the general perception, this could not be further from the truth.
Studies have in fact proven otherwise. The study by Gärtner et al, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, noted that lycopene from tomato paste is better absorbed by human body than lycopene from fresh tomatoes. Tomatoes are a rich source of the vital antioxidant, lycopene, which offers many health benefits, including improved heart health, better sun protection, and lower risk of certain types of cancer.
Making the right choice
When choosing between fresh or packaged tomatoes a lot also depends on the food you are planning to prepare. So, while fresh tomatoes do make more sense in salads, for curries and dals, crushed and pureed tomatoes prove a winning combination of taste, texture and nutrition. Moreover, with fresh tomatoes, restaurants often have to grapple with seasonal inconsistencies in quality (colour, flavour) and price. And it takes considerable time and effort in boiling, peeling and crushing tomatoes. The key is to choose packaged tomato products that are preservative free with no artificial flavours and colours. It’s crucial that you do due diligence on the company and how it processes and packages the product.
Kagome Foods India offers a range of Preservative Free tomato products to enhance the cooking experience of chefs, by driving convenience, consistency, and customizability. Being a fully owned subsidiary of Kagome Japan, the No. 1 tomato company in Japan since 1899, it brings to the Indian food service industry highest quality products made with manufacturing processes as per stringent Japanese quality standards.
The biggest plus with Kagome products is they guarantee highest quality at competitive prices, owing to the company’s unique vertically integrated seed to table business model. Kagome supplies specialized, tested and approved seeds to farmers in Nashik, who grow them in exclusive farms under the guidance of the company’s agronomists. These high-quality tomatoes are then harvested, sorted, crushed and packed, using world class manufacturing and packaging equipment, at the company’s state-of-the-art Nasik facility. Seed-to-table integration allows the company to offer Global Quality Products at Local Prices.
So, get ready to enjoy the goodness and freshness of Kagome tomato products, with rich flavour, all year round! If it’s tomatoes, it’s Kagome!