tomato soup

This tamatar ka shorba is a tomato soup from the Mughal culinary heritage.

Shorba, sherva or chorba is a hot soup or stew eaten across Middle-East Asia, South and Central Asia, and North Africa. Originating in Persia, it is traditionally prepared by simmering meat and vegetables in boiling water with salt and flavoured with aromatic herbs and spices.

The word shorba is derived from an Arabic term, shurbah, meaning soup.

In traditional styles, the flavoured broth is served after separating it from the meat and vegetables, as a starter or as part of the main course. The rest of the ingredients are served as an accompaniment to the main dish or in between courses.

When the Mughals came to India, vegetarian variants of shorba became popular. The vegetarian versions tend to be served as a thick soup, without separating the broth and the ingredients. In the version described below, the soup is pureed, which is a quite modern innovation. A more traditional and rustic approach would be to just mash the tomatoes, which will give a thinner soup, with larger pieces of tomato.

This soup is often used to accompany biryani or pulao. Another common way to serve it is with Indian bread rolls or pav.

The only important part of this recipe is the addition of the tempered oil. It is not a step to be left out and should be done just before serving. Just pour in the oil and cumin seeds, and gently fold into the soup.

This is one of the simplest recipes in this book. You just put everything in a pressure cooker, then finish it and serve. It does not lend itself to many variations. It is simple wholesome comfort food.

the recipe

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  • pressure cooker


  • 1.5 kg tomato - pulp and seeds removed, coarsely chopped
  • 1 brown onion - finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli - seeds removed, finely chopped
  • 20 g ginger - finely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic - finely chopped
  • 100 g coconut - chopped
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 black cardamom pods - broken open
  • 3 indian bay leaves
  • 1 stick cassia
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 500 ml water - boiling

to season

to temper

to serve


  • Add all the ingredients, except the seasoning and tempering ingredients to a pressure cooker. Add water last after mixing ingredients.
  • Seal and bring pressure cooker up to temperature.
  • Cook for 25 minutes, then release pressure naturally.
  • Remove the whole spices – black cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, cloves and bay leaves.
  • Use a stick blender to puree the soup, or use a masher to mash the tomato pieces for a more rustic soup
  • Add the jaggery and crushed peppercorns. Mix well.

for the tempering

  • Heat the gingelly oil in a pan and once hot, add cumin seeds. Once they start to crackle turn pan into the shorba and mix well.

to serve

  • Pour shorba into bowls, garnish with coriander leaves and serve.


  • Gingelly oil is Indian sesame oil. It is very different to the Asian sesame oil, being much less intense in flavour. Substitute with vegetable oil if unobtainable.

private notes

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Serving: 400 ml | Calories: 270 kcal | Carbohydrates: 30 g | Protein: 5 g | Fat: 16 g | Saturated Fat: 8 g | Cholesterol: 0 mg | Sodium: 656 mg | Potassium: 1122 mg | Fiber: 9 g | Sugar: 16 g | Vitamin A: 3405 IU | Vitamin C: 58.5 mg | Calcium: 89 mg | Iron: 2.9 mg

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