When entertaining at home I love a table groaning with food. No table of mine is complete without a variety of vegetarian side dishes to compliment the meaty mains. With many of our friends and family turning “preferably vegetarian”, these sides have to be as delectable as their non vegetarian counterpart. Happily, these spicy millet stuffed tomatoes are just that, so much so that they are now an integral part of my table… and not just as an accompaniment anymore, but as the dish of the day!
I do try to use millet in my everyday meals ( thanks for the inspiration Sangeeta Khanna ) substituting it for rice, pasta, adding it my salads, soups, breads, muffins…I’m exploring and attempting new recipes using this grain. This dish was a result of one of these attempts and a very successful one. I’ve made it at least once a week for just the family in the last one month. My father, after eating paneer and potato stuffed tomatoes with a rich tomato gravy all his life , is a convert. SCORE!!
Here I used a millet new to me, Kodo millet. Its grains are larger and sturdier than Foxtail or Finger millet grains. Even after the additional pan cooking , they held their shape and stayed light and fluffy. They soaked in all the olive oil, onion, garlic flavours so well that now I make extra millet mixture and eat it as a salad, warm or cold!
Fresh red chillies in the stuffing made it spicy, but Sambal Olek sauce gave it a punch like no other!! This thick , chunky fiery sauce is a staple in Indonesian and Malaysian cuisine. In this recipe, it really worked magic by adding enough heat without that sugary, vinegar flavour.
Topping the stuffed tomato gives it that lovely little crunch. I used parmesan cheese on some, panko breadcrumbs mixed with olive oil on some and a dab of dairyfree pesto and sunflowers seeds on the others…latter if you want to go the vegan way.
Kodo Millet – 150 gms
Onion – 1, diced finely
Garlic – 4 cloves, diced finely
Olives – 10, diced finely
Red chilli – 1, diced finely
Sambal Olek – 1 Tbsp
Lemon – 1
Red wine vinegar – 1 Tbsp
Olive oil – 2 Tbsp, plus extra for drizzling on top
Parsley, mint, basil – a small handful
Tomatoes – 12 small, even sized
Grated parmesan, breadcrumbs, panko, seeds, pesto, toasted finely chopped nuts for topping
How to :
Preheat the oven to 180 C.
Prepare tomatoes: Thinly slice the bottom of each tomato so they can stand without toppling over. Then cut the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out tomato juices, seeds and flesh (save for another use). Be careful not to pierce the bottom of the tomatoes. Turn them upside down on a plate to drain.
Prepare filling: Rinse and cook the millet in plenty of lightly salted water. Once its ready, in about 10-12 minutes, drain it and rinse it well with cold water. Drain again and set aside.
Saute the onions and garlic in olive oil for about 5 minutes, till slightly softened. Add the drained millet, stir in the olives, red chilli, sambal olek and salt & pepper to taste. Let it all cook for another 5 minutes. Take it off the heat. Mix in the lemon juice, red wine vinegar and the chopped herbs. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Spoon the millet mixture into the hollowed tomatoes, filling them to the brim. Top with the topping of your choice. Drizzle over a little olive oil and bake for 25 – 30 minutes. Serve warm.