Recipes: Raw Mango Thokku

A thokku is a pickle which is cooked down to a paste. In normal pickles, you don’t cook them (or barely cook them) allowing the vegetables (or fruits) to absorb the spices from the spice paste that coats them. In a thokku, you cook it down until there is no moisture left in the vegetable (or fruit) and this can also be made with herbs like coriander (or cilantro as it is called in North America) or curry leaves.

A thokku can be eaten not only with rice or flatbreads, but you can eat it as a stuffing in a sandwich. The raw mango thokku is an all-time favourite pickle and I have been known for eating it as it is, that’s how much I love it!

Last year in December, when my mum was with me, one day when I was wondering if I should make my instant mango pickle with the raw mangoes that S brought home, she asked me if I wanted to make this raw mango thokku. Me being me, I instantly said yes and learnt it from her. Since then I’ve made it at least once a month, fine-tuning my recipe. I am now confident of this recipe enough to share with everyone.

This is an easy recipe, just a little tedious. For around 4 largish mangoes, it usually takes me an hour from start to finish. If you are making more, perhaps for the whole year, then yes it can even take the whole day!

Raw Mango Thokku

Ingredients:

  • 4 large raw mangoes
  • 4-6 tbsps gingelly oil
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 4 tbsp red chilli powder (approximately)
  • ½ cup jaggery
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seed powder
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  • Wash and dry the mangoes thoroughly.
  • Peel the skin and chop the flesh into small pieces, the smaller the better. Discard the seed.
  • In a large pan, heat the gingelly oil and when it starts smoking, add in the mustard seeds. When the seeds pop, pour in the chopped mangoes and stir well to cover all the pieces with the oil.
  • Stir well and cover and let it cook for a couple of minutes. Then add turmeric powder and salt and stir well and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Now add the chilli powder and continue to cook. You can do a taste test at this point to check for seasoning and the level of chillies in the thokku. When you feel it is slightly spicier than you can handle, that’s what you are looking for.
  • Add the jaggery (optional, you can omit this completely or even add some brown sugar) and let it cook till the oil starts leaving the sides of the pan. Add more oil if your thokku starts to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Just when it is ready, add the fenugreek powder and remove from the gas.
  • When the thokku is cool, remove it to a jar and enjoy!

Notes:

  • I have found that the best way to cut the mangoes is to peel them with the peeler (after you have removed the skin).
  • Peel the flesh until you come to the seed, and then chop the remaining flesh finely. This way, the flesh breaks down fast and you get a smooth paste like thokku.
  • In the photo below, (I made this version about a month back), I have chopped the flesh and you can still see the slightly grainy cubes which have not melted into a paste.
  • You can also grate the mango flesh.

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Recipes: Thalagam Kozambu

Earlier this week was the festival of Thiruvathirai which is mostly celebrated in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. I decided, for the first time, to make this dish which is only made for this festival.

This dish is a traditional dish of the brahmins who come from the Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu (of which I am also a part of from my parents) and is something I’ve always grown up with, but never actually made.

It is traditionally eaten with a sweet rice dish called kali, but I decided to pair with Ven Pongal. I also didn’t have all the vegetables traditionally used for this dish, so I improvised!

Talaga Kozambu

Ingredients:

  • 1 small lime-sized ball of tamarind, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes and the juice squeezed out
  • 1 carrot, chopped into big pieces
  • 1 radish, chopped into big pieces
  • 2 large potatoes, chopped into big pieces
  • 2 raw bananas, chopped into large pieces
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste

To be ground into a paste

  • 6 dried red chillies
  • 2 tsp toor dal
  • 2 tsp white sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 1 tbsp oil

To temper

  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek/methi seeds
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp asafoetida powder

Method:

  • Heat oil in a pan and put in the red chillies, toor dal and sesame seeds and stir.
  • When the dal turns light brown, add the grated coconut and continuously stir until the coconut is crisp and brown. Ensure the coconut does not burn.
  • Let it cool completely and blend this into a fine paste with water.
  • Wash the vegetables and put them in the same pan. Add just enough water to cover and then the turmeric powder and some salt. Cover and cook until the vegetables are half cooked.
  • When the vegetables are half cooked, pour in the tamarind juice and cover and cook for approximately 5 minutes or till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away.
  • Next, add the blended masala and stir well. Check and add salt if needed. Remove from the flame around five minutes after it comes to a rolling boil.
  • In a smaller pan, heat the ghee and put in the mustard seeds, fenugreek/methi seeds, curry leaves and asafoetida. When the curry leaves become crisp, remove from the flame and pour over the Kozambu.
  • Enjoy with any rice of your choice through the traditional accompaniment is kali

Notes

The traditional vegetables used are raw banana, ash gourd, yellow/orange pumpkin, yam, brinjal/aubergine, broad beans, sweet potato, potatoes, radish, etc.

Recipes: Eriserri

Eriseri 7Since my mum is with me, I got her to make this dish which comes to Tamil Nadu via Kerala. This is made of Elephant’s Foot or Yam which looks like a stone but when cooked is a yummy dish which can replace potatoes in a dish.

Eriseri 3.1Eriseri

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups yam, peeled and cubed into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup raw bananas, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 cup + 3 tbsp grated coconut
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 2 tsp peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  • In a pan or pressure cooker, cook the cubed yam and raw banana with the turmeric powder till they are completely cooked and soft. Keep  aside
  • In a small pan, heat 1 tsp oil and fry the cumin seeds, peppercorns and red chillies till they are brown and keep aside. When cool, grind it to a smooth paste with 1/4 cup grated coconut and keep aside.
  • Now add this paste to the cooked vegetables and season it with salt and let it come to a rolling boil. When the gravy is as thick as you like it, remove from the flame and keep aside.
  • In the same smaller pan, heat the remaining oil and add the mustard seeds and when it splutters, add the curry leaves and the balance coconut and fry until the coconut becomes golden and crisp.
  • Pour this over the cooked vegetable, adjust seasoning and serve hot with plain rice. This also goes well with any Indian flatbread.

Eriseri 6.1

Eriseri 5

Eriseri 2

Eriseri 1.1

Recipe: Lemon Semiya or Vermicelli

Lemon Vermicelli 2Usually, when I prepare vermicelli for dinner, it’s always both this lemon vermicelli and the coconut vermicelli I shared a couple of weeks back. So this was made the same time we made the coconut vermicelli. This is also super easy to make and will appeal to those who like a sharp tangy taste!

Lemon Vermicelli 4Lemon Semiya or Vermicelli

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet instant rice vermicelli
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp broken urad dal (split black gram)
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 2 green chillies, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • Lemon juice as per taste (around 3-4 tbsps)
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  • Prepare the instant rice vermicelli as per the instructions in the packet. Drain well and keep aside.
  • In a separate pan, heat the oil and when warm, add the mustard seeds, urad dal, asafoetida, green chillies, turmeric powder, curry leaves and salt and stir for a few seconds till the urad dal becomes red.
  • When the urad dal becomes red, switch off the flame and then add the lemon juice. Adding it while the flame is on will result in the lemon juice becoming bitter.
  • Now add the drained vermicelli and stir well to mix together.
  • Remove from the flame and serve hot.

Notes:

  • You can make the same dish with rice. Just substitute the vermicelli with precooked rice and you have lemon rice!
  • You can also add cashew nuts and fry them in the oil to add an extra zing to the dish!

Lemon Vermicelli 5Lemon Vermicelli 1

Recipe: Coconut Semiya (Vermicelli)

Coconut Vermicelli 5

Growing up, the making of semiya used to be a day-long affair at home with preparations starting in the morning to make the rice paste which then gets cooked and then using a special machine, thin strands of rice vermicelli are passed out which are then cooked to make this yummy coconut vermicelli. Nowadays, instant rice vermicelli is readily available which makes making this dish easy.

Coconut Vermicelli 3Coconut Semiya or Vermicelli

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet instant rice vermicelli
  • 1 cup grated coconut
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp broken urad dal (split black gram)
  • A handful of raisins
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • 2 dried red chillies, broken
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  • Prepare the instant rice vermicelli as per the instructions in the packet. Drain well and keep aside.
  • In a separate pan, heat the oil and when warm, add the mustard seeds, urad dal, asafoetida, green chillies, dried red chillies, curry leaves, raisins and stir for a few seconds till the urad dal becomes red and the raisins start to plump up.
  • Now add the grated coconut and stir well till it starts to brown and crisp up.
  • Add salt to taste and continue stirring till the coconut is slightly brown and crisp.
  • Now add the drained vermicelli and stir well to mix together.
  • Remove from the flame and serve hot.

This is yummy both as a slightly heavy breakfast or a light meal.

Coconut Vermicelli 2Coconut Vermicelli 4Coconut Vermicelli 1