Warm Polenta and Heirloom Tomato Salad

Over the last 3 days my brain had been on over-drive trying to figure out how best to utilize the left-over bounty of Curry Leaves so generously given to me by a friend.  In India, a dish that contains Curry Leaves as an essential ingredient is called Khaman Dhokla (a savory steamed cake made from a lentil batter).  I love Dhokla but I have never tried making it from scratch and in any case I wanted to try something original and not just use the curry leaves in a traditional manner. I thought of using polenta because it is similar in color and texture to Dhokla. Luck probably played its role in inventing this dish because I found some fresh baby heirloom tomatoes and they made this dish perfect.  Believe me, this was an amazingly flavorful dish and the combination of flavors, colors and textures was a match made in heaven – from now on, this is surely going to be my signature dish!!!  I know I know…Italian polenta and south-Indian spices do seem like an odd combination but somehow this worked to perfection…if you don’t believe me, just take look at the pictures!


1.    An 18 oz tube of cooked polenta
2.    ¾ cup of multi-colored, baby heirloom tomatoes (best ones are available at farmer’s markets or Trader Joe’s)
3.    1 tablespoon of black mustard seeds
4.    ½ Jalapeno pepper
5.    1 teaspoon of red chili powder
6.    ½ red onion
7.    2 tablespoons of coconut flakes
8.    2 tablespoons of lemon juice
9.    1 tablespoon of sugar
10.    Two sprigs of fresh curry leaves (available at South-Asian stores)
11.    2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.


1.    Slice the tube of cooked polenta in discs about ½-1 inch thick.
2.    In a large non-stick pan, add the olive oil and heat on low heat.

3.    Gently place the discs of polenta in the pan and cook on both sides over low heat.
4.    While the polenta is cooking, peel and dice the onion in small pieces and also slice the jalapeno pepper and half the tomatoes with a sharp knife and set these aside.

5.    When the polenta looks slightly crispy on each side, take the slices out and place them in large serving plate.

6.    In the hot pan, add the mustard seeds and cook them till they start to pop and crackle (usually takes 20-30 seconds).

7.    Add the diced onion, curry leaves, red pepper, and Jalapeno pepper into the pan and cook them for a minute or two while stirring constantly.

8.    While the onions and rest of veggies are cooking, mix the lemon juice and sugar in a small container and add this liquid to the pan and cook for 30 seconds or so.

9.     Lastly add the coconut flakes and the halved tomatoes and warm these for another 30 seconds (do not cook the tomatoes – they just have to be warmed up a bit to get their juices flowing).
10.    Pour the warm veggies over the polenta slices and serve the dish while it is still warm.


Related Posts


  1. Permalink Submitted by Shilpa Patel on Sat, 05/05/2012 - 20:50

    sounds absolutely delicious! See what I mean? Fusion works!

    • Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Sun, 06/05/2012 - 16:42

      LOL Shilpa – although fusion can be a hit or miss thing, in this case it worked to perfection!!! Have to make this for you some time soon!

  2. Permalink Submitted by Rupali on Tue, 11/12/2012 - 09:36

    Hi Shabnam, I made this as a starter on Saturday – made a slightly different dressing – balsamic vinegar and chilli paste. Didnt add the onions but it was yumm 🙂 Thanks so much.

    • Permalink Submitted by Shabnam on Tue, 11/12/2012 - 17:53

      Hey Rupali – how was it????

  3. Permalink Submitted by Surbhi on Fri, 07/03/2014 - 22:07

    Hmmm… tried this but instead to treating the polenta like dhokla I used it like leftover idlis and the next day you can quarter them and chonkofy them. Worked really well! Instead of the red chillie powder I’ve used curry powder or even sambhar powder and added fried and quartered polenta pieces and cooked them in the pan too.

    Great recipe! A hit with my older one who is also a vegan by preference but will eat anything when nothing vegan is around 🙂

add new comment