Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thakkali Thokku / Ground Tomato Pickle or The Spicy Tomato Preserve

Thakkali Thokku

I am obsessive about tomato chutney recipes. I enjoy trying out  numerous variations, playing with the amount of tomatoes, onions and chillies going in every time and trust me you can never go wrong with the  chutney. The different tastes are always exciting and tasty however you jumble the ingredients! I have my granma's (amma's too) version of Tomato Chutney already posted here which is a 'semi preserve' type.

Thakkali Thokku or the Spicy Tomato Preserve is a stronger Tamil variation of tomato chutney in which onions are avoided completely and given a final touch of vendayappodi (methi or fenugreek powder) for the characteristic 'pickle flavour'.

So let me assure, you can be a little flexible with the ingredients for this one and the final dish will be heartwarming as always!

Thakkali Thokku

Thakkali Thokku
Yields enough to fill  two 200ml cups


Ripe red tomatoes- 750 grams
Tiny garlic cloves- 40 numbers. ( I used 'tharai poondu' or the country garlic which are tiny and slender. If you have normal cloves, use 20 no.s. Halve or quarter them lengthwise.)
[Use one-third quantity of garlic for grinding and the rest for seasoning]
Table salt-1 tsp

Oil- 1/2 cup ( let this be a 50:50 mixture of any oil you use for cooking and gingelly seed oil/nallennai
Mustard seeds- 1tsp
Fenugreek seeds- 2 fat pinches
Red chillies- 3-4 no.s broken into 3 pieces each
Red chilly powder- 1- 1 1/2 tsp
Hing / perungayappodi -1/4 tsp
Methi powder/ venthayappodi - 1/4 tsp (the methi seeds should be dry roasted well enough before powdering)


Thakkali Thokku

Wash and slice the tomatoes. They can be long, but slice them thin. Retain the juice that ooze out.
Throw in 10-12 pcs/pods of garlic pods and a tsp of salt. Combine gently and transfer to a colander placed on a wide bowl. Sundry for a few hours or at least a couple of hours under 'good' sun ( I had this out for 4 hours as there wasn't much sun and quite breezy ). Toss once every 30-45 minutes. The juice thus drips further more and get collected in the bowl below. Grind the pieces to a smooth paste. (Do not add the collected juice or water while grinding)

*I had about 1 cup of drained juice and 4 cups of pulp. This was reduced to 2 cups finally.*

Thakkali Thokku

Heat oil in a non-stick kadai. Splutter the mustard and brown the fenugreek seeds. Add the rest of garlic followed by the broken red chilly bits. Sauté for a few seconds and mix in the ground tomato pulp.

Thakkali Thokku

Bring the mixture to a boil and keep the flame low. Make sure the kadai is wide and deep enough so as to avoid splutters. Allow the saucy mix to thicken. Now pour the reserved juice and mix along. Simmer for a few more minutes. Add the chilly powder, hing and curry leaves. Thicken the mix further until the watery part has all evaporated an the oil starts separating on the sides.

Thakkali Thokku

Add fenugreek powder and salt (check and add) and mix along until the oil separates and bubbles on the sides. It's quite fine if at all you don't see the oil separating. You may always drizzle a little if it doesn't. Just make sure you had reduced the pulp to half with the consistency as in the picture below. It need not be too thick. It should be moist, oily, glossy and happy :)

Thakkali Thokku

Always use ripe red tomatoes. You may not need to use country tomatoes. I used Bangalore tomatoes and they were perfect! If your tomatoes are ripe and towards the sweeter side than sourness, you may add a bit of tamarind paste. Use very little for the tanginess. Do not avoid the final addition of fenugreek powder. It's a must for 'that' special flavour.
Drizzle a little oil if you find it too dry towards the final stages. I recommend you to  add the required oil while seasoning itself as the paste would get sautéed well enough from the start.

Thakkali Thokku keeps well for a few weeks if refrigerated.I learnt this recipe from my ma-in-law's co-sister. She suggests to top the preserve with castor oil/vilakkennai which increases the shelf life considerably for those days we never had the luxury of refrigerators. She mentions how the tomatoes were ground in large amounts those days in our ancestral village home using "aattu kallu" to serve the large joint family!

The spicy tomato preserve goes well with just anything and this was packed for sister during my visit to Singapore last month :)


  1. Tomato chutney is my favorite :) yes i do play with tomato chutneys with adding the onion, garlic and chilly! this is one of the awesome recipe !

  2. I can feel the aroma of that delicious tomato chutney..

  3. Look at that fiery red color. Makes me want to grab out and dunk a finger and lick away!

  4. hot n spicy tomato pickle ... seems like it goes well with any Indian breakfast...

  5. one delicious looking thooku can just imagine the yum taste. Wish I can steal all that I see in the pictures ;)

  6. Hi Barathy, I am able to see your posts now. (Smiles) I have lots of tomatoes sitting on my kitchen counter, was thinking on making something like a thokku, will try this. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Do you see my wide smiles now, srimathi? :)

  7. wow drool worthy tomato tokku :) looks so delicious and inviting clicks dear :)

  8. lip smacking pickles,super appetizing with almost everything,delicious :-)

  9. Thank you all :) Your comments make my day!

  10. I love this red delicious thokku! I have some tomatoes ripening in my garden. So this is how they are extending their flavour in my kitchen. Thanks Bharathy!

  11. One of my favs.. My amma's spl.. We usually make this when on long train journeys.. Made this recently too.. Love this awesome looking one anytime :)

  12. Just looking and reading the recipe i am drooling. Why don't you visit me and bring me this too :-)

  13. wowwww!!!!!!!! I tried this its really yummy......

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  15. Wow awesome recipe! Thanks for sharing with us, when I started reading from this perspective, a very interesting website picklemasti caught my eye. I visited website, I came to know they are offering a sample of Mango Pickle (100gms) at doorstep absolutely FREE!!!! Free Indian pickle offer is limited!

  16. So I tried this using mustard oil because that's what I had. And it was amazing! What I had intended for 4 days I finished in 2 hours!

  17. الشرق الاوسط من اهم شركات نقل العفش بالدمام متحصصه فى نقل عفش واثاث بالدمام ونقل العفش بالخبر كما انها توفر شركة نقل عفش بالجبيل والخبر وشركة نقل عفش بالقطيف والاحساء وجميع خدمات نقل العفش والاثاث بالمنطقة الشرقية بارخص اسعار نقل عفش بالدمام وتقدم ايضا شركة تخزين عفش بالدمام والخبر
    شركة الشرق الاوسط
    شركة نقل اثاث بالدمام
    شركة نقل اثاث بالخبر
    شركة نقل اثاث بالجبيل
    شركة نقل عفش بالخبر
    شركة نقل عفش بالقطيف
    شركة نقل اثاث بالاحساء
    شركة نقل عفش الجبيل
    شركة نقل عفش بالدمام


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