Chokas are delectable side dishes from Trinidadian cuisine and they do have an Indian connection or rather with the 'chownkna' or 'tadka' or seasoning technique that is common in Indian cuisine. It is said that labourers from Bihar and other North Indian states took the dishes there and this later evolved into a richer cuisine. Chownkna or seasoning is a simple technique in which seasonings are poured into hot oil and when they sizzle,splutter,flavour or change the nature of the oil, the oil along with the seasonings is poured on top of the food.
Usually we can make choka out of whatever combinations of veggies we prefer but eggplant and tomato seems to be more popular and are used in their roast form. I have adapted Madhur Jaffrey's Tomato Choka from World Vegetarian and it was simple and delectable.
Tomato: atleast 4 big ripe
Garlic: 1 small clove mashed/minced
Fresh Green/ Red Chilli: 1-2 as needed finely minced
Salt: as per taste.
Oil: 2-3 tsp or /-
Garlic: 2 cloves sliced thinly
Shallots: 1-2 thinly sliced (optional)
Roast the tomatoes in the oven or on the gas fire. You can stick a fork on the tomato and hold them over low flame, turning in between till the skin blackens and flesh becomes soft on all sides. Allow the roasted tomatoes to cool enough to be handled. Peel the skin and optionally remove the seeds, and coarsely chop/mash the tomato pulp in another bowl.
Add minced/mashed garlic,salt and finely chopped/grated green chilli. I have used green chilli as the green colour provides a nice contrast to the red tomatoes. Adjust the seasonings after a taste test. I have added only one small clove of garlic as I am not a big fan of raw garlic.
Now do the chownk/seasoning. Heat oil in a small pan and add thinly sliced shallots and garlic and saute till they turn golden. Pour the contents of the pan on top of the tomato mix saving little for garnish ad mix well.
Serve as a side with rice of breads along with other chunky curries or even as a dip with starters. You can add boiled eggs or roasted aubergine to this to turn into a chunkier and important side.
A simple side which has smoky tomatoes and a simple side to hearty meal.