Courgette was something new I had to work with when I landed here in the UK. With the limitations to the veggies available at my disposal here I had to begin exploring my options with it. I had tried them a couple of times at a barbecue restaurant back in India, but had not tasted them in any other form until I got here. I had seen them in markets back in India but, never did find time to experiment with them back in India.
Courgette has a slight bitter taste to it. But its tasty no doubt. I thought of making a stir fry with them, then changed my mind & made the thokku instead.
Thokku is a speciality from the Southern state of India, Tamil Nadu. I can describe it is a cooked-down relish or reduction made from mainly fruits, vegetables and herbs. It is mainly eaten at the end of a Tamilian meal along with rice which is mixed with yogurt. But that version is almost like a pickle & can be preserved for years together. The version I have prepared lasts maximum for a week or two. It’s a quick version.
The authentic thokku which lasts for years its prepared with lots of caution. The vegetables/fruits & herbs used are wiped after washing to take away any water left. The dals are dry roasted too. Even the salt & red chilli’s used are sun-dried to take away any residual water content present. Preservatives like citric acid is used to make it last long. It uses more oil, since oil also helps in preservation.
Once I’m back in India I will post more thokku recipes made the authentic way, sunlight is one main requirement which is scarce in Glasgow. Also pickling in India is mostly a summer activity. 🙂
Ingredients: (Serves 4) Preparation Time: 30-40 mins
Courgette/Zucchini – 3, small-sized, roughly about 250 gms, not baby though, finely chopped into tiny squares/grated
Dried Red Chilli’s – 6, medium-spicy variety, roughly torn. Do not throw away the seeds, use more chilli’s if you wish to
Garlic – 4-5 medium-sized cloves, skin on, crushed up well using a mortar & pestle
Fenugreek seeds – 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida – 1/8 tsp
Urad dal/Split gram dal – 1/2 tsp
Bengal Gram/Chana Dal – 1/2 tsp
Tamarind – 1 marble-sized ball, without seeds, soaked in about 30 ml of warm water
Jaggery – 2 marble-sized balls, powder it & keep aside.
Tip: Use lesser quantity of jaggery you don’t care to make the thokku on the sweeter side
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Sambar powder – 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder – 1/2 tsp
Coriander leaves – 2 sprigs, finely chopped
Curry leaves – 7-8, roughly torn
Groundnut oil – 2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Squeeze out the juice from the soaked tamarind. You can add the pulp too if you wish. I did.
Heat oil in a deep bottom fry pan. Set heat to medium. Add the asafoetida & let it sizzle.
Note: You can also add mustard seeds after the asafoetida if you wish to.
Add the red chilli’s & crushed garlic. Toss them around for a couple of minutes. We do not wish to burn the red chilli’s & garlic, reduce heat if they begin to turn dark too soon. Add the chana dal & the fenugreek seeds, sauté them for a minute or so. Next add the curry leaves & toss the contents around. Next add the urad dal, fry them till they turn golden brown.
Next throw in the courgette/Zucchini, mix well. Add salt to taste & throw in the turmeric powder & let the courgette sweat… Once the water starts evaporating add the sambar powder & the coriander powder. Mix well. Once the raw flavours fade away add the jaggery & tamarind juice. Simmer & let the courgette cook till they turn very soft & all water evaporates, the oil separates out and you are left with a soft thick mass.
Let the thokku cool down, if you don’t want to serve it hot. Transfer the contents into a dry glass jar & tighten the lid.
Let it stay outside for a day on your kitchen shelf/counter so that the flavours blend in well. Don’t be surprised if the thokku tastes better the next day.. 🙂
Later refrigerate if you have any left 🙂
If you plan to use it within a couple of days then garnish with coriander leaves.
Tip: If you plan to store it for later; this lasts at least a week in the refrigerator, then skip adding coriander or add the coriander leaves with the jaggery & tamarind.
Turn off the heat & serve hot with chapatis’ or hot steamed rice with a dollop of ghee on top.
- Kariveppilai Thokku (Curry Leaves Thokku) (subbuskitchen.com)
- Carrot & courgette kadhi (shivaaydelights.wordpress.com)
- Courgette salad recipe (Shredded Zucchini Salad) (nami-nami.blogspot.com)