Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tamil Thokku ( Thick, sour curries)

The logic behind  thokku : Stir fry chopped veggies till dry, blend to a paste with tamarind, red chilies and salt. 

Thokku is halfway between a thogayal and a pickle. Like a thogayal, goodies are blended to a paste with tamarind, but like a pickle, no water is added and the water content of ingredients used is reduced by slow cooking. The reduced water content and the acidic environment inhibit spoilage. Most thokku last for a week un refrigerated and for over a month refrigerated. Follow a few simple rules to make your thokku last long:
1. Use fresh, unblemished vegetables.
2. Wash and completely dry vegetables, bottles and spoons.
3. Never use a wet spoon or your bare hands to touch the thokku. Even a tiny bit of water can spoil it.
4. Aluminum, plastic or brass vessels react with the acid in thokku and should be avoided. Use glass / stainless steel  / porcelain jars.
5. Salt always has moisture in it. So dry roast it / dry it in sun for a day before using it.
6. Refrigerate thokku to make them last much longer.
7. Have a layer of oil over thokku to seal the surface.

Tips :

1. Thokku can be used as a dip, spread, curry or a pickle. You can eat it with flatbreads, with Idli / dosa /upma, curd rice, spread it over bread or eat it mixed with hot rice and ghee.

2. Almost all vegetables without too much water content can be turned into Thokkus. Experiment with exotic vegetables as long as you remain true to the spirit of the recipe.

3. When using sour stuff as the base, you need not add tamarind. If you do not have tamarind paste, just add a bit or raw tamarind (with the seeds / fibers removed)

4. Experiment using a variety of souring agents like mango / vinegar / lemon juice in place of tamarind.

5. Mix in a pinch of preservatives like sodium benzoate / citric acid to make your thokku last longer.

 Replace the vegetables with cooked meat and a variety of non veg thokkus like chicken thokku, mutton thokku, fish thokku or prawn thokku can be produced. The principle is the same – reduce moisture, add a souring agent and cook into a thick gravy.

 The variations of the following thokkus are listed in this cookbook

Onion thokku / Shallot thokku / Garlic thokku

Cilantro thokku / Pudina thokku

Thakkali thokku

Milagai thokku

Nellikkai thokku / kilakkai thokku / manga thokku /

Inji thokku

Chenai thokku

Mahali kilangu thokku

Sundaikkai thokku 

Fusion thokku ( Zucchini thokku, Cranberry thokku, Celery thokku, Bell pepper thokku..)

Since thokkus are built on red chiles, they are perfect for  Kitchen Chronicles' "Think Spice- Red Chilies", an  event  started by Sunita Bhuyan.


Anonymous said...

Hello Ramki,

Thank you for featuring my Onion Thokku on your One page Cookbook...



Cilantro said...

Thank You for the link of Cranberry thokku on One page Cookbook.

Le Pomm said...

I like the idea of a one page cook book, saw it the first time on your page... nice

Vishku said...

What you say about sour agent is true I made cilantro or kothambri thokku with kokum and it came out well though it tests bit different but on par with tamarind... So I alternate between these 2 versions

Will try your interestion versions as I have made only kothambri thokku till now
Thank You for wonderful cookbook page...a

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