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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

chilli thokku

easy recipe chilli thokku JFI Jihva For Ingredients blog event

Chillies - green or red, fresh or dry - have always been an integral part of my mom's kitchen. And now, chillies have a special place in my kitchen as well.

When I was growing up, there was very rarely a period when we didn't have home-made pickles and chutneys handy. In addition to regular food, that is.

Thokku is a form of pickle where the main ingredients are ground into a paste and preserved in oil and spices. The most common ones at home are tomato thokku, ginger thokku and chilli thokku.

This chilli thokku recipe is a bit different from how my mom usually makes it. The primary ingredient is, of course, chillies - both green and red - plus, I decided to throw in some dry hibiscus flowers that I had handy as I like the color and the mild flavor it adds. Now, I love the deep rich color and the smoky flavor of dry ancho-pasilla chilies, so, I went with them here. But, if this is not readily available, substitute any favorite dry red chilies - adjust quantity based on heat.

easy recipe chilli thokku JFI Jihva For Ingredients blog event

I usually make fairly small batches and store it in the fridge. It lasts for about 2 weeks (if we don't eat it all up, that is). But, sometimes, I can them and put them away for later. It tastes even better when it has had time to age gracefully and develop deep flavors.

And this chilli thokku recipe is my post for JFI: Jihva For Ingredients, started by Indira of Mahanandi fame, hosted this month by a dear pal, the lovely and talented Nandita of SaffronTrail

6-8 dry ancho-pasilla chilies
15-20 green chillies
a handful of dry hibiscus flowers
plain white vinegar
brown sugar


Soak the dry red chilies and hibiscus in some warm water for about 15 minutes.

Remove the stem and some of the seeds, if preferred, and coarsely chop the soaked chillies; in a blender or food processor, grind the three ingredients together.

Heat 4 Tbsp oil in a pan, add some mustard seeds and when they splutter, add the ground chilli paste. Add about ¼ cup plain white vinegar, about 2-3 Tbsp brown sugar, and some salt to taste.

Stir well, and keep stirring till the rawness of the chillies go away, all the liquid is evaporated, the oil starts separating and the thokku comes together. Taste and adjust flavors.

The tang from the vinegar and the sweetness of the brown sugar counter-balance the heat from the chillies and make this a wonderful condiment to have handy at home. The heat is not overpowering, killing the taste buds, so-to-speak...

How to use this chilli thokku?

1. mix a small amount with cream cheese and use it as a sandwich spread
2. spread a thin layer of this wonderful thokku on rotis or parathas (or even tortillas), roll them up and munch as a quick snack
3. mix a small amount with fresh hot rice and ghee and enjoy!

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  • At 10:10 AM, Blogger Nupur said…

    I almost could not bear to read this is too tempting for words! Adding dry hibiscus flowers is a lovely creative touch!


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