Thokku is a version of semi-thickened preserve where the vegetable invoved is ground to a coarse or fine paste, sautéd in oil, spiced up and seasoned accordingly.Vegetables with relatively more water content is considered ideal for making thokku.The vegetable when ground brings out the water, the sautéing part reduces the water content and the oil for seasoning enhances the shelf life of the preserve.
Get ready with:
Shallots/Chinna vengayam/Small red onions-1/4 kg or 2 levelled 250ml cups
Tamarind-a medium lime sized ball
Red chilly powder-1/3 cup
Fenugreek or methi seeds/venthayam-1 tsp
Turmeric powder-1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds-1/2 tsp
Sesame seed oil/nallennai-1/2 +1/4 cup
Salt-A tbsp-more or less
To carry on:
1. Soak tamarind in just enough warm water for half an hour.Extract pulp as thick as possible.Keep this aside.
2. Heat a non-stick wok and dry fry the fenugreek/methi seeds till brown and aroma spreads, without adding oil.Powder and keep aside.
3. Peel the small onions.Grind to a coarse paste without adding water.
4. Heat ½ cup oil in the above non stick wok.Splutter the mustard seeds.Add hing and the onion paste, sauté till the water content is absorbed, the colour changes to darker brown and the oil separates.Add the chilly powder and mix well.Pour in the tamarind pulp, mix in jaggery, turmeric powder and salt.
5. Sauté again till the water content evaporates slowly, the gravy thickens and the oil separates again.Never close the wok or the pan during the preparation so as to facilitate the evaporation of the water content of the thokku as far as possible.
6. Sprinkle the methi powder and mix well.Remove from fire when the semi thick consistency is reached and add the extra ¼ cup if you need more oil to float.
7. Cool and transfer thokku in clean and dry bottles.The oil, should float at least a centimeter length, as the upper layer. Store in a cool and dry place. Refrigerate for a longer shelf life.
This goes to Radhika of Radhis Kitchen who hosts JFI-Onions for the month.
Small onions are highly suggested to make this preserve. Big onions may also be substituted, so as to avoid the hazzles of peeling and poor availability, but the taste does alter, and may have comparitively a lesser shelf life.
This is an excellent dip for Dosas and Idlies.A good accompaniment for plain rice too.