Home Grown Tomato Thokku (Chutney)

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Goodness me! It’s been a while since I posted anything on our blog. Life has taken over. Both Shiv and I have been busy at work and our writing has taken a back seat. We have been cooking a lot but have not been very good with posting our recipes lately.

I had a bumper crop of tomatoes this summer and what best way to celebrate the lot than to make a yummy South Indian Tomato chutney called Thokku. This is my mother -in-law’s recipe which I followed and believe me it was delicious and is a great accompaniment to idlis, dosais, chappathis and even curd rice.

What do I need to make it

  • 11/2 kg Tomatoes
  • 200g  Ginger cut into thin long pieces
  • 1/2 cup Sesame oil (you can use any vegetable oil but I prefer to use sesame or gingelly oil for its authentic flavour and because sesame oil is healthy and is called ‘Nalla Ennai’ or good oil in Tamil .
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp Red chilli powder
  • 10 to 15 Curry leaves
  • 5 to 6 Whole dried red chillies
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp Fenugreek seeds (Methi)
  • 1/2 tsp Coriander seeds (Dhania)
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Approximately 1 kg of chutney.

How do I make it?

Wash tomatoes thoroughly and dry well. Chop the tomatoes into big chunks. Wash, peel and cut ginger into thin long pieces. Use a mortar and pestle to make  the coriander seeds into a  coarse powder. Heat the oil in a deep bottomed pan. When the oil is heated add the mustard seeds, wait for them to splutter and then add the curry leaves, fenugreek seeds,the coarsely powdered coriander seeds and the whole dried red chillies . Stir this around for a minute or so . Now add the turmeric and chilli powders. Saute briefly and lower the heat so that the spices do not burn. Add the chopped tomatoes, sprinkle salt and let the tomatoes simmer gently and cook in their own juices. It will take a while for the tomatoes to break down and cook into a pulp leaving their skins. When the tomatoes have cooked down completely, add the finely chopped ginger. Cook on a low heat till you see the oil leaving the sides of the pan. Adjust seasoning and cool before transferring the chutney to jars. It keeps well for 2 to 3 weeks if refrigerated. Enjoy as an accompaniment to dosas, idlis, curd rice , chappathis or even as a sandwich spread.

Hara gobi masala (dry green cauliflower subji)

Cauliflower is one of our favourite vegetables and it cooks fairly quickly.   The following started off as an experiment and we are quite happy with the outcome so we thought we would share it with you.



What do I need to make  it?

  • 1 medium cauliflower broken down into florets
  • 1 medium onion sliced
  • 1 tsp panch phoran
  • Pinch of asaefoetida
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • Paste ingredients
    • 3 cloves of garlic
    • 3 green chillies
    • 1″ piece of ginger peeled
    • Handful of fresh mint and coriander leaves
  • Powder ingredients
    • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
    • 1 tsp cumin seeds
    • 1 tsp black pepper corns
  • 3 tbsp ghee
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4

How do I make it?

Use a pestle and mortar to grind the powder ingredients to semi fine consistency and keep aside.   Next use the pestle and mortar to grind the paste ingredients to a coarse paste.   Heat ghee in a pan and add the panch phoran and asaefoetida – stir for a couple of minutes and then add sliced onions.   Continue stirring on medium heat till onions turn golden brown – add the paste and continue cooking on medium heat for five minutes.   Add the spice and turmeric powder to the mixture, stir for a minute before adding the cauliflower florets.   Sprinkle a 1/4 cup of water, cover and cook on a low heat till the cauliflower is done.   Serve as a sided dish with Indian bread of choice.

Coconut & coriander chutney

We have both been very quiet for the last few weeks as we have  gotten quite engrossed in our daily routines.   Hopefully we will get back into the habit of sharing recipes on a more frequent basis.   Apologies for the multiple posts today as we clear some of our back log.   The first recipe we would like to share with you is a simple accompaniment for dosai or idli.


What do I need to make it?

  • 1/2 cup of fresh coconut – grated or pieces
  • 1 Thai red chillies
  • 1 small red onion or 2 sambhar onions
  • Handful fresh coriander with stalk
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Around 1 cup

How do I make it?

Place all the ingredients in a blender  with a little bit of water and grind to a coarse paste.  Transfer into a serving dish and enjoy :-)

Chestnut flour chocolate pancakes

We are surprised it has taken us this long to make a chocolate based pancake.   Having made these a few days ago, we are certain to make it again and potentially serve it as a dessert pancake with a classic Chantilly cream or vanilla ice cream.


What do I need to make it?


  • 1 cup chestnut flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • Zest of an orange
  • 1 tsp orange blossom water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tbsp coco powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp muscavado sugar
  • 50 gms chocolate chips
  • Pinch of salt
  • Butter to cook


How many will I make?

Around 6 depending on size

How do I make it?

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl to make a semi thick batter.   Heat a pan with some butter and spoon in a ladle of batter- cook on both sides and enjoy hot on it’s own or with a sprinkling of icing sugar.

Samo semolina upma

Samo is a type of wild grass originating from tropical Asia.  In India seeds of this grass are consumed during festival fasting days. In Gujarati it is also called  “Moriyo”, in Marathi it is called ‘bhagar’ or “Vari cha Tandul” and the English equivalent is “sawa millet”.   We bought some samo semolina at an Asian grocer a few days back and made a gluten free upma using it.   Texture wise it it very close to wheat semolina upma and taste is not too dissimilar either.   We think this seed could be a very good gluten free substitute for semolina based dishes.


What do I need to make it?


  • 1 cup of Samo semolina – dry roasted for five minutes
  • 1 cup of mixed corn and green peas (if frozen – microwave before use or par boil if fresh)
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 1 inch piece of ginger finely chopped
  • 3-4 green chillies slit
  • 1 preserved lime finely chopped
  • 1 tsp urad dahl
  • 1 tsp channa dahl
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • Pinch of asafoetida
  • 3 tbsp ghee
  • Handful curry leaves
  • Handful fresh mint and coriander chopped
  • Salt  to taste


How much will I make?

Serves 2

How do I make it?

Heat ghee in a wok before adding mustard seeds.  Once they start spluttering, add the urad and channa dahl and fry till they start turning golden brown.   Add the ginger, green chillies, curry leaves and asafoetida – stir for 30 seconds before adding the onions.   Cook on medium heat till the onions begin to change colour.   Add the vegetables, preserved lemon, chopped herbs and season to taste.   Pour in 2 cups of hot water from the kettle and bring to a boil.    Then add the samo semolina and keep stirring to ensure it doesn’t stick to the sides.   Continue cooking for 10 minutes or till all the water is absorbed.   Serve hot.

Thoughtful birthday present

A good friend from my days in high school and his wife got me one of the most thoughtful presents for my birthday this year.   They got me a two hour cooking lesson at L’atelier des Chefs (http://www.atelierdeschefs.co.uk) to master a Thai menu which consisted of:

  • Lamb massaman curry
  • Coconut and chilli prawns with a sweet chilli dipping sauce.
  •  Jasmine rice
  • Lemongrass and ginger creme brulee

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There was one other person attending and we split the tasks of prepping and cooking.  We did lamb 2 ways – one was seared cubes cooked slowly in the curry and the other was cooked medium rare on the hob.  The session was guided by a well experienced chef who’s past assignments have included 1/2/3 Michelin star restaurants and five star hotels.  The sweet chilli dipping sauce was an eye opener and will definitely feature on our next dinner party menu.   The twist on crème brulee using Thai flavours has me inspired to play around with a few other flavours.  Best part of the afternoon was getting to play with the blow torch for the first time on the creme brulee (hint to Anna – we need one of these in the kitchen!)  I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and it has reinforced my passion for the culinary arts all the more.

Rathi & Ramesh thank you for your generous and thoughtful gift – I guess you know what we are having for dinner the next time you are over here.

Arachuvita onion & murangai kai sambhar

One of the dishes that is synonymous with South Indian cooking is sambhar, a thick dahl and vegetable based gravy dish normally eaten with rice and often served as an accompaniment with  idlis & dosais (rice & urad dhal batter steamed dumplings and pancakes).  The key to any good sambhar is the spice powder which varies from household to household and we sometimes feel the recipes are guarded secrets passed on by word of mouth from one generation to the next.  One can find sambhar powder in most Asian grocery store which is a suitable substitute (our family recipe can be shared for a small fee  :-)).


What do I need to make it?

  • 2 murangai kai (called moringa in English or more colloquially known as drumsticks in India) cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 10-12 small sambhar onions (available in Asian grocery stores – alternatively use baby onions)
  • Extract of a small ball of tamarind (alternatively ½ tsp of tamarind paste)
  • Handful fresh curry leaves
  • ½ cup of pressure cooked tuar dahl
  • 3 whole red chillies
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp channa dahl
  • Pinch of asafoetida
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • ½ cup fresh grated coconut
  • Handful of fresh coriander for garnish
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • Salt to taste

How much will I make?

Serves 4-6

How do I make it?

Heat a tablespoon of oil over medium heat and roast the coriander seeds, channa dahl and dried red chillies for a few minutes till the seeds change colour.   Once cooled, grind to a paste with fresh coconut and a pinch of asafoetida – use a little water.   Keep this aside.   In a separate pan, heat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil followed by the mustard seeds.   Once the seeds start to splutter add the curry leaves and vegetables.   Saute over medium heat for a couple of minutes and then add the extract of tamarind water, sambhar powder and a bit of salt.  Pour in 500 ml of water and cook over medium heat till the raw smell of the powder disappears and the vegetables are cooked.  Add the cooked dahl and paste and simmer for 5-10 minutes.   Adjust the seasoning, garnish with fresh coriander and switch off heat.  Serve hot with plain boiled rice.