My maternal grandmother has a thing against tomatoes. Especially when they’re used in traditional Indian dishes. See, tomatoes came to India very recently. Souring agents, until then, were natural yogurt, lemons, kokum, buttermilk, raw mango, etc. If you really dig deep into your family’s recipes from two-three generations ago, you will find no references to the tomato. Unfortunately, the tomato has become an element of any Indian dish’s template these days. When I eat at average Indian restaurants, I can’t help but notice that no matter what I order, it has tomato in it, making all the recipes taste somewhat similar.
In this coastal-Maharashtra recipe for chicken curry, I have used lemon juice and natural yogurt in the marinade. The curry gets its color and texture from dried red chilies, freshly grated coconut, and onions. You will not miss the tomatoes at all–the nuttiness of the roasted coconut and the subtle spices will more than make up for their absence. I like to use the more colored meat–thighs and drumsticks–for everything chicken. I also think most Indian curries taste better when the meat is on the bone. You could, of course, use boneless or breast pieces for your curry. They will cook faster, but you’ll have to keep an eye on it because stringy chicken is quite ghastly!
Do try it and let me know how it turns out for you!