Tomato-Cilantro Thokku



tomato-coriander-thokkuTalking about pickles how can one miss out on the ubiquitous tomato-coriander that find their way into our dishes?

Last week was satisfying as I got to make more than one pickle in a couple of days’ time.  Soon after preparing lemon pickle I was informed that Ar and As were planning a homecoming for the weekend.  The immediate plan was to make one more pickle to be sent back with them and who else  but tomato and coriander came to my rescue! I decided to make a combo, the thokku way and  was too happy with the outcome.

It took me less than an hour to process and get the pickle ready. I used the pressure cooker to reduce the volume of the puree and it helped in fast reduction and avoided mess while cooking.


Ripe (firm) tomato 1 kg

Cilantro (coriander) leaves 3 cups (loosely packed) or 2 cups (well packed)

Tamarind 100 g (free from fibers)

Sea salt 3 tbsp

Red chili powder 3 tsp (heaped)

Turmeric powder 1 tsp

Asafotida ½ tsp

Fenugreek powder ½ tsp

Sugar 1 tsp

Sesame oil 3 tbsp


  • Soak the tamarind in warm water for 15 minutes to soften it. Use just enough water to soak the tamarind.
  • Clean the cilantro leaves and let the water dry out to get moisture-free leaves.
  • Remove the stalk point from the tomatoes and quarter them for easy blending.
  • Transfer the tamarind and half the tomato to the blender and blitz  to get a smooth puree. Transfer to a bowl and now transfer the remaining tomato the blender. Add the cilantro laves also and blitz to get a coarse puree.
  • Heat the oil in the pressure pan on a low flame and when the oil gets hot add fenugreek powder, chili powder, turmeric powder, asafotida and mix well. Transfer the two portions of the puree to the pan and add salt and sugar.
  • Close the pan, add the weight and let the mix cook on high flame for three whistles.  As the mix gets cooked the entire place will get filled the aroma of the pickle.
  • Wait for the pan to cool down and open the lid to see the thickness of the pickle.  If it has reached a gel like consistency wait for the pickle to cool down completely and transfer to airtight bottles for storing.
  • In case the the mix is a bit liquid like in consistency heat on low flame to thicken the mix. Do keep an eye on the mix and keep stirring to avoid burning of the pickle.




Chef’s Note

  • Before storing the pickle add a tablespoon of vinegar on the top to store the pickle longer
  • Minimal water to soak the tamarind helps in thicker puree.
  • Coarsely ground cilantro gives a lovely bite to the pickle besides the bursting flavor

Churan ki Goli

churan ki Goli





Festive food, parties,  food in company, and so on often bring out the glutton in you and at such time nothing like a chatapti (lip-smacking) churan to wade away the heavy feeling! Often during childhood many of us have devoured the mouth-watering churan, often sold by vendors near the school that would left us craving for more. G often has this heavy feeling after food and I have tried various home remedies but they have not always worked and some of them require condiments that are not so easily available. Cumin and asafotida work wonders on a queasy stomach and I guessed churan could possibly one of the best to quieten the stomach. Although many forms of churan are available commercially they are often loaded with salt and in the process are not really favored by us. I tried browsing through Internet but could not come up with a satisfactory mix. I had earlier tried with jaggery and tamarind pulp but it was  a bit too mushy to be stored.  Looking up the ingredients list in churan bottles and a post in one of the forums finally set me thinking and realize that basic ingredients are one sour factor, sweetener, salt and a condiment for digestion. Based on our taste we can vary the sour factor or use a combination of the same. Working with what is available at home I found that churan is perhaps one of the easiest to make!

This churan is principally based on jeera as the key digestive but one can try variations with asafotida, dried ginger powder, fennel seeds or a combo based on taste buds.



Cumin seeds 1 tsp

Peppercorns ¼ tsp

Red chilli powder ¼ tsp (a pinch if less heat factor preferred)

Dry mango powder (Amchur)  3 tbsp

Salt  ½ tsp

Sugar 3 + 1 tbsp

Lemon Juice 1½ tbsp


  • Powder the sugar and set aside one spoon of powder for coating the balls later.
  • Roast the cumin seeds and pepper corns on low flame till just done. Switch off the flame as soon as the aroma gets released.
  • Transfer the roasted condiments to a blender, add the remaining dry ingredients to the blender and blitz them to a fine consistency.
  • Transfer the powder to a plate, add powdered sugar (remember to save a spoon for coating; I saved the chilli powder and mixed it with the sugar set aside for coating to give color and distinct taste), add the lemon juice little by little and mix well to get a just-moist consistency. Make sure it does not get too moist. Roll the mix into small balls and drop them to the platter/bowl containing powdered sugar. Roll them well  but gently and not vigorously, and store in an  airtight container.

Chef’s Note

One can try adding pomegranate seeds in place of amchur and also a pich of asafotida to get  a different flavor.

When I try variation I will post them as different recipes or as as addendum to this post.

My post in a food forum has attracted close to 400 likes in less than two hours and hastened me to post immediately! Thank you all for the likes!!  🙂


Gooseberry Pickle



Gooseberry    ½ kg

Turmeric powder  1 tsp

Asafotida  ½ tsp

Salt  1 tbsp

Red chilli powder  2 tsp

Sugar  1 tbsp

Vinegar 50 ml


  • Wash the berries thoroughly under running water and press it dry with a soft cloth.
  • In a wide bowl all the spice ingredients and add vinegar to make a good mix.
  • Transfer the berries to the mix and blend the spice mix and berries well with a wooden spatula.
  • Transfer to a clean and dry bottle and leave for marination for 4 days before use.

Stays good at room temperature for many days

I-D Sambhar

restaurant style sambhar

I-D sambhar as I call it is sambhar served in restaurants to go ideally with idli, dosai, or vadai. It has a different taste, flavor and color (depending on the amount of chilli powder added to it) as compared with the tradional sambhar that  goes as gravy with rice. Often it is thinner, more vibrant and strong in flavors like cinnamon or fennel. It uses less tamarind and more tomatoes and thus taste also varies. Often we see people helping themselves to cups of sambhar and I guess justified in doing so.

My version of this sambhar is quite enjoyed by G and I guess that certifies this dish 🙂

Preparation 10 minutes

Cooking  20 minutes

Ingredients  (To make 1 liter)

Tamarind     size of a gooseberry

Shallots        1 cup

Drum stick  6 to 9 pieces (2″ long)

Toor dal         ¼ cup (small handful)

Turmeric powder ½ tsp

Salt  1 tsp (heapful)

Mustard seeds 1 tsp

Asafotida ¼ tsp

Cinnamon ½”(optional)

Fennel seeds ½ tsp (optional)

Red chilli powder 1 tsp

Cooking oil 1 tbsp

For paste

Roasted gram 1 tbsp

Coconut  grating 1 tbsp

Roasted coriander seeds 1 tbsp

shallots (sauteed) 5 or 6

Tomato  1 big

Curry leaves 3 sprigs


  • Wash the dal and add turmeric powder. Pressure cook the dal in 1/2 cup water
  • Heat oil in a wide pan and temper with mustard seeds. Add shallots and drumstick and saute until aroma starts wafting. Set aside a few shallots to add to masala paste.
  • Add the strained tamarind pulp to the pan and add salt. While the tamarind boils grind the masala ingredients to a fine paste.
  • When the raw smell of tamarind is gone add the mashed dal and masala paste and make up the volume to a liter with water. Switch off the flame as soon as it starts boiling.
  • Heat ½ tsp oil in tadka pan and add the chill powder and asafotida and switch off the flame.  Add to sambhar and mix well
  • If you like cinnamon/fennel  flavor add the spice to the masala while grinding.

Chef’s note: You can add other vegetables of your choice like yellow pumpkin, beans or carrot if you like to add to taste and color.

Cinnamon/fennel flavor gives the sambhar the signature of Karnataka1

Mango Pachadi


Raw mango (medium-sized) 1 (cut into 1″ pieces to make 1 cup)

Tamarind pulp (from size of a marble)

Green chilli (slit) 1

Salt 1 tsp

Jaggery (crushed) 1/3 cup

Red chilli powder ½ tsp

Curry leaves  2 sprigs

Cumin powder ½ tsp

Turmeric powder ¼ tsp

Oil 1 tbsp

Rice flour 1 tsp

Mustard 1 tsp

Scrape the skin from the mango (no need to peel) and cut them into 1″ pieces.

Heat oil in a kadai and temper the mustard seeds. Add the slit chili and saute for a few seconds. Add the mango and saute for a minute. Add the tamarind pulp, turmeric powder, chili powder, cumin powder, salt, and crushed jaggery.  Cook till the mango is soft.

Make a paste of rice flour by adding two tbsp of water. Add the paste and curry leaves to the pachadi and let it come to a boil.

Remove from fire and serve hot or cold.