Can you help me find a sub for tomato paste on this recipe?
August 28, 2022 9:17 AM   Subscribe

I am currently OBSESSED with this "confit tandoori chick peas" from Yotam Ottolenghi and Noor Murad. On rice, quinoa, or as an app (or alone!) it is AMAZING. My folks are coming to visit and my mom loves all of these flavors, but is not supposed to eat an excess of tomatoes because of GERD.

She can handle the spice, and the cherry tomatoes, but can you think of something I could sub for the paste? Or, she will suffer for the deliciousness for a night. Honestly, I can't explain how creamy the chick peas get. And yes, you can make it in advance, but definitely reheat!).
All advice is welcome!
posted by atomicstone to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Tomato paste mostly add umami. It won't taste exactly the same in the end results, but you could try something like an equal amount of olive paste. Another option might be miso paste or soy sauce.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 9:37 AM on August 28, 2022 [5 favorites]

I think you could leave it out just fine. Maybe a small amount of salt and sugar and maybe a tiny splash of water from the tinned chicks peas to add a bit of thickness the paste would bring. Or smash up a piece of roasted red pepper with a little pinch of sugar.
posted by Swisstine at 9:57 AM on August 28, 2022 [5 favorites]

It would be totally fine to just skip the tomato paste in this recipe. It won't make a huge difference. If you want a sub, staying in the Indian realm, I'd opt for maybe half an onion, finely chopped and sauteed before you add the other ingredients.
posted by ssg at 10:01 AM on August 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

I would add a wee bit of vegetarian bouillon and maybe a pinch of sumac.
posted by saladin at 10:01 AM on August 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

Pumpkin purée is a common sub for tomato paste.
posted by Comet Bug at 10:02 AM on August 28, 2022 [4 favorites]

I wouldn’t try this without testing but I am finding that a little seaweed in tomato based dishes adds that umami. I tend to go v light on paste because maybe I don’t know how to use it, but it can be either too cloying or too tinny for me.
posted by drowsy at 10:08 AM on August 28, 2022

I'm not sure about your mom's situation, because every body is different, but in general when I see tomatoes recommended against for GERD it's more about the acid than the flavor. So I'd expect the tomato paste to be less of a problem than the cherry tomatoes. But if your mom wants to avoid the tomato paste you can leave it out no problem, I'd just taste to see if you need to add some sugar and salt.
posted by Lady Li at 10:28 AM on August 28, 2022 [7 favorites]

Turkish red pepper paste (Biber Salçasi) would work perfectly if you can source it.

It comes in sweet (Tatli) and spicy (Aci), the sweet one is pretty much a one-for-one substitute for tomato paste in usage and wouldn't change the flavour balance of the dish.

If you can only find it in large jars or tetrapacks, I would recommend portioning and freezing most of what you don't use - even in the fridge it never keeps as long as tomato paste.
posted by protorp at 10:34 AM on August 28, 2022 [6 favorites]

I’d sub in strawberry jam.
posted by shadygrove at 10:37 AM on August 28, 2022

Response by poster: For those questionong the GERD/cherry tomatoes: I use yellow/orange ones! Thanks for the advice, I will ask her about these subs! Definitely try the recipe. It is definitely one of those greater than sum of the parts kind of things.
posted by atomicstone at 10:53 AM on August 28, 2022

Unless I hit the wrong recipe, there was only 1 tablespoon of tomato paste? Doesn’t some like that would cause a problem. But cool idea above about Turkish red pepper paste… Something else I need to try.
posted by Windopaene at 12:20 PM on August 28, 2022 [1 favorite]

I'd experiment with preparing the chickpeas separately from the tomato ingredients, spices, and oils -- kind of make a sofrito version, then let people combine the chickpeas and the "sofrito" at dining time. Then your Mom can have a version that a) has a customized, maybe more moderate amount of all the "OMG GERD" ingredients, and b) doesn't readjust her palate back to "must be this full of oily, spicy, acidic ingredients to be delicious".

Also, if you can prepare all the non-chickpea ingredients together in a kind of sauce/confit, you can potentially store that long term (frozen? canned?) with or without the yoghurt, and make a bunch of it at once. Then, in the future, if you want this dish that you are obsessed with, you just need to cook or obtain some cooked chickpeas, thaw the sauce, and combine them.
posted by amtho at 12:37 PM on August 28, 2022 [4 favorites]

I have acid reflux and have had good luck substituting red peppers/red pepper paste in similar situations. They are not generally on the “avoid” list except for people with severe GERD, but as someone above pointed out, every body is different.

Just a heads up that mint and citrus juices, both of which are present in your recipe, often present problems for people with GERD. Mint is particularly bad for me. In the well-respected “Dropping Acid” food list by Dr. Jamie Kaufman, mint and citrus are actually on the worst offenders list (almost always affects people with GERD) and tomatoes are only on the idiosyncratic list (usually bad but doesn’t always affect everyone). Check with your mom because she might be fine with those, though.

I’ll admit, sometimes I just eat things and then deal with the consequences later, and this recipe sounds so delicious it might fall into that category.

(Re: the cherry tomatoes: the reason why small amounts of fresh tomatoes actually tend to be less of a problem is because they’re less concentrated than tomato paste/tomato sauces.)
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 3:56 PM on August 28, 2022 [2 favorites]

If it umami you want to replace, try Liquid Aminos.
posted by tmdonahue at 5:40 AM on August 29, 2022 [1 favorite]

A combination of red pepper and sweet potato makes a decent substitute for tomato paste!
posted by In Your Shell Like at 5:17 AM on August 30, 2022

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