My favourite dish to make when I’m away from home – Nicole’s vege-tomato pot of heaven

I learned this recipe from My Green Roots back in university and it has brought me nothing but comfort and envious glances from other backpackers – a great way to make new friends, really.

The recipe uses tomatoes that keeps the broth light, while adding turmeric, ginger and cayenne pepper which gives it a slightly spicy kick and a warmth that’s perfect on cold summer nights.

While travelling, I’ve made this countless times, often swapping out vegetables for whatever I can find cheaply in the local markets or supermarkets. Other times, I’ve skipped out on some spices, using whatever I can in the kitchen cabinets of whatever hostel I happen to be at. The one thing I never skip out on is fresh ginger and use the leftovers to make ginger tea.

I thought it’d be fun to share my version of this recipe that has made countless people smile.

Favourite dish.png

Utensils: Mug, Tablespoons, Teaspoons, Large pot


  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 fresh tomato chopped up for extra tang
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped (I use a lot thanks to my Baba Nyonya taste buds)
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Water to add as needed

Optional spices you find

  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 2 pieces of star anise
  • 4 – 5 cloves
  • 4 -5 whole pepper corns
  • Half a fresh chilli (chopped) or a teaspoon of dried chilli flakes
  • 1/4 Vegetable bouillon cube

Any vegetables you can find

  • 1 mugs of fresh hard vegetables cut into bite-sized pieces (For example, carrots and broccoli)
  • 1 mug of fresh soft vegetables cut into bite-sized pieces (For example, brinjals, green beans, peas, peppers, cucumbers, zucchinis)
  • 1 mug of fresh leafy vegetables cut into pieces that you can fit into your mouth (For example, spinach, lettuce, radicchio, kai lan)
  • If you’re having this dish without rice, add 1 mug of something starchy (For example, cooked lentils, cooked chickpeas or cut-up potatoes)

Cooking instructions (20 – 30 minutes)

  1. On medium heat, add oil garlic, ginger and onions into the pot. Fry till onions are translucent and begin to turn brown.
  2. Next, add all the spices you’ve managed to find. Fry till turmeric has turned the oil yellow or until the kitchen smells spicy.
  3. Add your canned tomatoes now.
  4. Then, toss in your hard vegetables like carrots and broccoli. If you’re using potatoes, add them in here. Let it come to a gentle bubble.
  5. Add your tomato and softer vegetables in next and stir well. If you’re using lentils and chickpeas, add them in here.
  6. Make sure your vegetables are covered in liquid. Add more water if needed.
  7. Throw in your tiny piece of vegetable bouillon.
  8. Cover the pot with a lid or plate and let it simmer again.
  9. Once it’s simmering, turn down the heat and add in your leafy vegetables.
  10. Put the lid back on again. Once it’s simmering, turn the heat down and leave it be for 10 minutes. Crack open a bottle of beer or wine.
  11. Taste it. Does it need more salt? Pepper? More spice? Add a little at a time till your taste buds dance.
  12. Garnish with fresh coriander. Serve with rice or quinoa or with a thick slice of bread and plain yoghurt.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!


Original recipe here.