A Recipe from the Chef: Kaumudi Marathé's Santosh (Tomato-Coconut Soup)

Uta Briesewitz

In our two-part interview with Kaumudi Marathé of The Un-Curry Table pop-up restaurant, the chef discussed everything from the origins of the word "curry" (kadhi) to the state of Indian cuisine in Los Angeles (not good). Today, she gives us a recipe for one of her favorite dishes, tomato-coconut soup, or santosh.

As she told us: "This is the dish I would have at my last supper, preferably made by my maternal grandmother, from whom I learned it. One mouthful of this beautiful, salmon colored soup with its coconut-y smoothness, mixed with rice and ghee, is pure heaven! That's why its name, which means contentment in my mother tongue, Marathi, is so appropriate. We served this soup at opening night of The Un-Curry Table pop up last November and diners could not get enough of it."

For this recipe, Marathé adapted it for Squid Ink from her cookbook "The Essential Marathi Cookbook" (Penguin India, 2009).

Santosh (tomato-coconut soup)

From: Kaumudi Marathé

Note: The day her grandchildren arrived for summer vacation, my grandmother, Surekha Sirsikar would make their special "farmaish" (request) for lunch. I always asked for santosh with hot rice and a drizzle of clarified butter. If you must have accompaniments, serve sauteed okra with cumin and a tomato-onion-yogurt raita alongside or make santosh the soup course in a more American menu. It is really quick and easy to make, especially if you use canned tomatoes. And it's a great way to embark on cooking Indian food because its flavors are subtle and do not require a trip to the Indian grocery.

Serves: 6

1 lb. tomato purée from 2 lbs. washed tomatoes (see below) (or 2-28 oz cans whole tomatoes in juice)

2 tablespoons clarified butter (or canola/grape seed oil)

1/2 red onion, minced

1 teaspoon ginger, grated

1 1/4 teaspoons cumin seed

3/4-1 teaspoon red chili powder (or cayenne)

1 1/2-2 teaspoons salt

2 cans thick coconut milk (or milk made from the flesh of a fresh coconut)

1-2 tablespoons rice flour (or Bengal gram flour, besan)

pinch of sugar

5-6 sprigs cilantro, washed & finely chopped

Tomato purée:

1. Blanch tomatoes in 8 cups boiling water until they soften and the skins split, about 3-5 minutes. Cool tomatoes slightly and skin them.

2. Squeeze the skins for juice and discard, then purée the tomatoes and strain the pulp to remove seeds.


1. Heat the fat in a stock pot over low heat. Sauté the onions until they turn 'gulabi' (pink), about 4-7 minutes. They should not brown.

2. Sauté ginger and cumin. Stir in the purée, chili powder and salt. Simmer 5-8 minutes.

3. Gently stir in the coconut milk, adding 1 cup at a time so you don't dilute the tomato flavor. Taste the soup occasionally and stop adding milk when the taste of tomato and coconut are balanced (neither too sweet nor too tart). The soup will be a delicate salmon color.

4. Raise the heat slightly. If the soup seems too thin, slowly stir in 1 tablespoon rice flour thicken it. If it's tart, add a pinch of sugar. Bring the soup just up to the boil but do NOT boil it. Coconut milk can curdle if boiled.

5. Garnish the santosh with cilantro. Serve with hot white rice and ghee.

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