Thokku is a pickle variety in which the vegetable is pureed or finely grated. Thakkali Thokku is a very traditional South Indian condiment., Thakkali means Tomato in Tamil. It is most commonly used as a dip for Idly, Dosa, Roti etc., but it goes along very well with a whole lot of other foods. I use this as a spread in sandwiches, mix it with hot white rice to make tomato rice, make spicy tomato pinwheels using puffed pastry sheets and most of all it is an ultimate combination with yogurt rice. My mouth did water as I typed it.
This recipe is my mom’s. Her pickles are just to die for. Unfortunately, I have not learnt all of them from her. She used to make a few varieties of pickles and some other dishes that have a longer shelf life ahead of an anticipated long duration (4-5 days or more) power cut during hurricanes etc. Back then, we did not even have a fridge at home. She just had to cook some rice, roast some pappads, and we were all set with the most delicious meal. Good old days!
2 lb ripe tomatoes
8-10 red chilies
2 teaspoon urad dhal
1 teaspoon fenugreek
1 teaspoon grated jaggery
2 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 pinch hing (asafoetida)
1/4 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 sprig curry leaves
Blanch the tomatoes and peel off skin. Transfer to a blender and puree.
Heat a teaspoon of oil in a skillet. Add urad dhal, chilies and fenugreek and roast until the dhal and fenugreek turn golden brown in color. Dry grind this in a coffee grinder/mixer into a powder. This will be somewhat coarse. Add salt and jaggery to the powder and grind it well again. Adding salt while grinding helps the powder to get finer. Set the spice powder aside.
In a big non stick pan with lid, heat the remaining oil. Add mustard seeds and allow them to splutter. Add curry leaves, hing and the tomato puree. Give it a gentle mix and put the lid on. Cook on medium until the puree is reduced to half, about 20-25 minutes. Be careful, as the tomato puree splashes wildly during this process.
Add the spice powder to the puree, mix well and continue to cook until the mixture gets brown red in color. Keep stirring once a while to avoid the mixture getting stuck to the bottom of the pan. You’ll see the oil starting to separate out from the mixture. Turn off heat.
Cool and transfer it to an airtight container. You can use it up to one week or even more if refrigerated.