Tamarillo: 4 Things To Know About These Tree Tomatoes Of North

Ever spotted round, golf ball-shaped tomatoes growing in hilly trees, during your vacation to northern states like the hilly regions of West Bengal, Maharashtra, Assam, Uttaranchal, Nagaland, and Himachal Pradesh? Those are tree tomatoes or tamarillos which are powerhouses of nutrients, such as carbohydrates, antioxidants, proteins, minerals, fats, and vitamins, which are vital for a healthy body.

While tamarillos are not native to Indian cuisine, their unique flavour profile has made them a beloved part of East Indian cooking. Food enthusiasts and chefs are experimenting with tomatillos to create fusion dishes that blend traditional Indian flavours with international influences. Tamarillos thrive in a special kind of climate and need some specific growing conditions. Let’s learn more about this plant.

Where is it grown?

Tomatillos thrive in warm climates, making the temperate regions of North India suitable for their cultivation. They are typically grown in states like Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh. The plant requires well-drained soil, moderate watering, and plenty of sunlight, similar to the conditions needed for growing tomatoes. Farmers in North India have adopted tamarillo cultivation as an alternative or complementary crop to traditional vegetables, benefiting from its growing demand in both local markets and urban areas where there is an increasing interest in seasonal produce.

How nutritious are tamarillos?

Tamarillos are not only flavorful but also packed with nutrients. They are rich in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as dietary fiber, which promotes digestive health. Additionally, tamarillos contain important minerals such as potassium and manganese. They are low in calories, making them an excellent addition to a healthy diet. 

The high antioxidant content, particularly in the form of phytochemicals like lutein and zeaxanthin, supports eye health and helps in reducing the risk of chronic diseases. Incorporating tamarillos into the diet can boost overall health, which is why they are becoming popular in North Indian households focused on nutrition.

The best ways to use it

Traditionally used in Mexican cuisine for making salsas, sauces, and stews, tamarillos bring a tangy flavour that complements Indian spices and cooking styles. They can be used to prepare chutneys, adding a refreshing twist to this staple condiment. Tamarillos also work well in curries and lentil dishes, where their tartness balances the richness of spices and ghee. Additionally, they can be grilled, roasted, or even eaten raw in salads, providing a versatile ingredient for both traditional and modern Indian recipes.

How are they different from cherry tomatoes?

Though they are both small and round versions of tomatoes, tamarillo and cherry tomatoes are vastly different in taste and profile. Tamarillos are small, round fruits encased in a papery husk, which starts green and turns brown as the fruit matures. The fruit itself is usually green, whereas cherry tomatoes are small, round, and typically bright red or yellow. They resemble miniature versions of regular tomatoes and lack any husk.

Tamarillos have a tart, tangy flavour with citrusy notes. This distinct taste is crucial in many Mexican dishes, particularly in salsas and sauces. Cherry tomatoes are sweet, juicy, and mildly acidic, making them perfect for salads, snacking, and roasting.

In Mexican cuisine, tamarillos are key ingredients in green salsas, sauces, and stews. Their tanginess adds a bright, fresh flavour to dishes. These are versatile and can be eaten raw, roasted, or cooked. They are commonly used in salads, pasta dishes, and as garnishes due to their sweetness and vibrant colour.