In my childhood days when we were sent to buy vegetables from the local market they gave us curry leaves & coriander leaves as compliments; these days in the departmental stores they seem to be price-tagged separately. In Chennai we still get these as compliments from some vegetable vendors. This seems a very trivial thing but that gesture is a feel good thing because there is an old belief linked to this; they say curry leaves are not to be bought and anyway they shouldn’t be omitted also, so we get them gifted by veggie vendors. Okay, that could be a superstition but a harmless one. A lot of such accumulated compliments took form of thokku in my kitchen last week. Curry leaves are extensively used in south Indian cooking especially for tempering the dishes and are known to aid in hair loss and premature graying of hair in addition to being a rich source of vitamin A.
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
1. Curry leaves – 3 cups
2. Gingelly oil – ¼ cup
3. Salt to taste
4. Red dried chilies – 4
5. Tamarind – gooseberry size
6. Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
7. Asafoetida – ¼ tsp
Step 1: Soak the tamarind in luke warm water. Seperate curry leaves, wash and let the water drain out completely.
Step 2: Heat a spoon of oil and sauté curry leaves in it until they become supple & aromatic. Transfer into a mixer jar.
Step 3: Fry the red chilies in the same kadai and transfer it to the jar. Turn off heat. Add soaked tamarind along with the water and some salt to the jar.
Step 4: Once it cools down enough grind into a fine paste, add some water if necessary. Adjust taste as required.
Step 5: Heat a spoon of oil the same kadai, splutter mustard seeds, sprinkle asafoetida and pour the paste into it. Keep stirring occasionally and cook open until all the moisture in it evaporates; add the rest of the oil spoon by spoon.
Step 6: Once the oil starts to separate, the thokku is done and store it in a airtight container after it cools down.
Step 7: This is so versatile that it can be served with idli/ dosa/ roti as chutney or for steamed rice as thovial (sort of a dense curry) or for any variety rice as pickle.