This time of year, when tree tomatoes are in season, Tshomin often whips up a batch of her famous Ezay, a sort of side dish/ condiment to add a little spice to any rice-based meal. Above is a handful of the fresh tree tomatoes, you can see that tree tomatoes are little more egg shaped than "regular tomatoes." This ezay is the only recipe I know for the tree tomato though once at the lovely Zhiwa Ling hotel in Paro, I ate them poached in honey as dessert. Very tasty!
Tshomin always makes it sound like this is an easy dish to throw together but it does take a bit of effort and time. Its also best served fresh. Tshomin starts by pre-soaking dried red chillies, this help to soften them up a little.
Then both the tomatoes and the red chilli have to be roasted. In our house this is done over an open flame . Tshomin braves burnt fingers as she carefully turns the chili and tomato until they are both nicely roasted as indicated by the blackening skin seen in the picture below.
The roasted tomato must then be peeled. The skin is tough but the flesh is wonderfully pulpy once its been roasted. Again this takes quick fingers, unafraid of a little heat. I love the tufts of steam you can see rising as Tshomin peels
Next both the peeled tomato and the roasted chili are roughly chopped. If you wanted to take the heat down a little you can take the seeds out of the chili but we are not that kind of family. Again look at that steam!
The chopped tomato and chili are then added to a mortar that already contains chopped onions and a peeled chunk of ginger ( no need to chop the ginger) . Generally its about one regular red onion and a finger of ginger. Tshomin tends to keep roasting and adding chili and tomatoes until she feels like she had made enough. She is very much one of those, "I know it when I see it" type cooks!
Now its time to use the pestle to crush and grind the ingredients down into a thick, chunky paste. Just before the ezay is done Tshomin adds salt, crushed Sichuan peppers and fresh chopped coriander.
The end produce looks like this. Thought admittedly at many meals we serve it straight for the mortar!
As you can tell this particular batch of ezay was not made for a typical Bhutanese meal but it was just as appreciated with oven roasted chicken and peas as it might have been with a more traditional spread.