A Summer Tomato Salad and the Winners of Bong Mom’s Cookbook


Hot and Humid.

But the early onset of Monsoons this year brought relief to some and tragedy to many.  Engineers (and politicians) will have us believe we can control Nature, twist, throttle, and contort it every which way, without any consequence.  Nature, then, has no choice but to show us what she is capable of.  Last week, just two days of incessant rains laid waste to much of Uttarakhand, the new state that was carved out of the hill districts of Uttar Pradesh in 2000.  The rivers Mandakini and Ganga reclaimed their banks with incredible force.  My parents were also amongst the many stranded in the state.  They were lucky to not have ventured further up beyond Uttarkashi, though Uttarkashi itself witnessed hundreds of buildings being swept away into the Ganga.  Sensibly, they decided to stay put in the safety of the ashram they were at, and waited for the rush of people to clear.  I was myself scheduled to be in the upper reaches (Bhimtal-Pithoragarh) at that very time for work but the unavailability of train tickets for our team meant we must reschedule the visit.  The official meeting at Dehradoon on Monday happened as scheduled while the magnitude of the disaster was still being uncovered.

The devastation is massive and it is presently estimated that it will take at least a year to reestablish the road network.  The damage is yet to be assessed fully – entire settlements have been washed away in the flash floods.  Govindghat, the last motorable point for the Valley of Flowers trek, is unrecognizable in the rescue pictures.  There’s a lesson for us here if we will only learn – to plan development in such fragile areas to minimize impacts.  Disaster preparedness is another area that we fail in again and again.  The Met Department had issued heavy rain warnings for the region 48 hours in advance!  The Indian Armed Forces are doing a commendable job in the search and rescue of stranded people, but where is the local government? If we do not learn from this, we will be doomed to repeat it.


Time for some distraction.  Let me share a refreshing salad that needs not much more than pantry staple tomatoes.  It is the salad you make when beautiful tomatoes are plentiful and you cannot but give in to the temptation of buying them by the bushels.  Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the recipe and ingredients – toss it together and you have a quick side that’s a great accompaniment to any meal.  You could even have it on its own.


Tomato Salad
(inspired by Kylie Kwong’s recipe; another version here)

6 ripe (or many more!), firm tomatoes (you may use a mix of different kinds and make it more colourful), rough dice
1 t sugar
juice of a lime (a tablespoon or so)
generous pour of olive oil (2 T)
fresh ground pepper, to taste
chopped coriander for garnish (optional)

Put all the prepared tomatoes in a bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and mix. Mix in all the other ingredients and refrigerate for at least half an hour to allow the flavours to meld.

I have dithered on announcing the winners of the Bong Mom’s Cookbook Giveaway.  Let me delay no more.  All the comments, except Bong Mom’s responses,  53 in all, were entered into the draw.  I used an online random number generator to generate a set of 2 numbers between 1 and 53.  The set that came up: 6, and 8.  So the winners are:

Neha Vyas, and

Congratulations, Neha and Vrishali! Each of you wins a copy of Bong Mom’s Cookbook! Send me a mail with your addresses. You have till July 1st to get in touch with me!  Thank you to the rest of you, for playing along.  I hope those of you who delurked for the first time, will continue the conversation.


Published by


A self professed urban ecologist!

12 thoughts on “A Summer Tomato Salad and the Winners of Bong Mom’s Cookbook”

  1. I love tomatoes 🙂 As kids, we’d eat tomatoes with sugar sprinkled on them. I do the same salad now with croutons (I LOVE CARBOHYDRATES!) and no sugar.

    The tragedy is Uttarakhand could have been avoided :\ It’s just so sad that we are still only worried of which politician is doing/saying what and there is no focus on the rescue efforts or rehabilitation.

    I’ve planned to get A Bong Mom’s Cookbook for his birthday. Both of us love Bengali food and this’d be great for him!

    Carbohydrates are the building blocks of a balanced diet, love them all – breads, potatoes…!!

  2. The tomatoes look so fresh and juicy hope Vir Sanghavi sees this pic. I read in one of his articles that he brings back tomatoes from Spain because Indian tomatoes are not good according to him. Such a snob he is!

    A friend makes a similar one with honey. I love it.

    Congrats to the winners!

    This week he is writing about all fancy imported food stuff that is available these days…yet he feels the need to import tomatoes!

  3. Have your parents returned home? Are they safe now? We had even booked tickets to go to uttarkashi this oct.now I don’t know when we will go next. Huh! T his is pralaya……when mother nature has had it enough. Wish we learn to give respect and be modest with our wants.

    Awesome salad…so colorful…

    PS: do you know of any trust worthy relief fund I can donate to?

    I think the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund is a good bet!

  4. the big question is will we ever learn ???? Time, the government and the individuals of the society work in cohesion for the development of the community ! Nature’s Fury is unyielding but glad to know that ur parents are safe. The tomato salad looks refreshing. congrats to the winners

    I too wonder sometimes at out short memories, how soon we forget and make the same mistakes all over again!

  5. So glad your parents are safe and that you didn’t get tickets to go there. It’s really hard to watch the news and read of how the dead and the surviving are being looted.

    It is sad how such events also bring out the worst in us.

  6. I am absolutely delighted that my name came up in the lucky draw. Thank you Anita for hosting the giveaway! I look forward to reading Bong Mom’s cookbook.

    Congratulations, Vrishali!

  7. Anita IS so interesting to hear a little news of your Country way over the other side of the world, in canada. Is very good you and yours where safe. I am going to read more about it.
    We, in Canada, in the province of Alberta the south of the province are undergoing a similar experience Not so many people lost their lives but billions of dollars of property damage and many people not at all able to return to their homes
    But, the famous Calgary Stampede, which was underwater last week, and scheduled to open July 5th I believe it is, will yet open
    Many from the Canadian army reserves, many local volunteers of all ages, police and firemen etc. have been working none stop to clear the area of water, muck and damage and rebuild the fields and repair the arenas etc. . Are determined that nothing will stop the opening it might even be 100 ear of the stampede.
    Alberta is very flat land. Where once there had been might forests, glaciers years and years ago descended on the area scraping away forests etc and leaving the land, with good soil and great farm land. Much of the soybean, corn etc. that feeds the world comes from this area of Canada.

    The Indian Army did a great job with search and rescue but the damage will take a long time to repair. It will all be okay if we learn from it and keep habitation out of harm’s way.

  8. we had this for the picnic. i added a few picnics of monteray jack cheese , to make a full meal if anybody wanted to have it with grilled bread

    when i came back to collect my box from the food table – all was gone. There were about 85 people in all !

  9. Visuals of devastation in Uttarakhand are unbelievable. This kind of whip lashes from mother nature are to be expected according to climate change experts. Northern India and Himalayan plains will be some of the worst hit places on the earth in coming decades.First swelling rivers,massive floods and land slides from melting ice caps and glaciers and then droughts. Glad to know your family was safe and that you and your team actually could not make it going there. Tomorrow is beach day for us and a big bowl of this tomato salad, no thanks to bread – only 20 pounds away from cat walk for 32 inch waist normal people form ;), kids playing, schools are finally off,..summer is here!.

  10. Relieved to know that your parents are safe.

    Looking at the way we behave, the din of environment etc will drown out in some time and we will be back to destroying nature yet again. Just this morning was reading about the environmental destruction in sikkim and the sahyadri hills in maharashtra for hydel projects and minig respectively.

    But on a different note, I finally prepared cholae using your recipe………………and if you were near me would have kissed your hands in joy! We were supposed to have it with paratha/ bread, but we just gave up the pretence:)

    A query though, while grinding the masala should the badi elaichi peel be discarded? I used only the seeds as was unsure if the peel would make it bitter

    Once again thanks for the amazing recipe.



    Thanks, Zinnia! 🙂 The badi elaichi skin is also included in the ground masala. Glad you like the recipe!

  11. Uttarakhand is very tragic, eye opener too. Hope we will move towards more sustenance in our life. India now needs quality more than quantity.
    Congratulations to the winner!
    Tomatoes are so good 🙂 I have a tomato loving fairy at home 🙂 In the afternoon she loves to steal tomatoes from fridge and eat them up for snack.

    If tomatoes look so good, who wouldn’t love a bite!

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