I am not sure what language thokku is in, most likely Telugu, but it refers to any fresh herb/vegetable pounded/ground to a paste with salt, tamarind and jaggery, and reduced in sesame oil. The key ingredients are tamarind, jaggery, and sesame oil. This recipe makes a thokku out of fresh green chilies and is dynamite!
This is one of the easiest lunch/rice recipes. Perfect for summer afternoons, paired with a cucumber or onion raita and a cruncy papad. Fresh mint flavors this rice, I don’t add cilantro as I want the flavor of mint to be the dominant one.
This is yet another variation of the more/moar kozhambu, made with buttermilk. The first variety is a simple buttermilk recipe blended with coconut, green chilies, and jeera and tempered with coconut oil. This one is a slightly more elaborate version of it, with soaked dals, toasted urad dal and chilies, methi seeds, and of course coconut and green chilies! The name varutharacha (varuthu + araicha) gives away the recipe – varuthu is to fry, and aracha means ground. Other than the frying of spices which takes a few minutes, this is a quick recipe just like the first variety. This recipe is from the collection of “Samaithu Paar” Volume 2, by Meenakshi Ammal.
A super simple side dish. Sometimes, you have a lot of vegetables – a couple of potatoes, a carrot, some peas, half a cauliflower, but none enough to make a side dish. This is a perfect curry to use up all of those, and make a great curry that’s perfect as a side dish for rotis. This is a great lunch box item, a quick breakfast dish, or an excellent vegetable to go along with a dal, and some rice or rotis.
Ah! What can I say about puliyodarai that hasn’t been said. It’s a kind of mixed rice, what we call “kalanda sadam” in thamizh. The gravy that it’s mixed with is made up of tamarind extract and a spice mix that has chana dal, red chilies, coriander seeds, a little bit of black pepper, and most importantly, sesame seeds. These spices are toasted in a bit of oil, preferably sesame, and made into a powder. The tamarind juice is boiled with a bit of oil, hing, chana dal, red chilies, and curry leaves and made into a thick paste – this is called pulikachal. It’s then mixed with rice, a bit of the spice powder, and tempered with more hing, curry leaves, and roasted peanuts. Heaven! It’s a very popular prasad in many temples, travels really well, and is part of the meal on one of the pongal days along with coconut rice, and yogurt rice, and fried papads, vathals. The most important thing to note about puliyodarai is that it needs sesame oil, and sesame oil only. None other will do if you want authentic puliyodarai.
This specific version is the Iyengar version as I’ve learned. The Iyer version stops with making the puli gravy with chilies, curry leaves, methi powder and hing. At that stage, it can be mixed with rice and eaten. The Iyengar version goes one step further and adds this beautiful spice powder, the dominant flavor there being sesame seeds.
To summarize, there are 3 steps in making puliyodarai:
1. Make the pulikachal paste (this will stay in the refrigerator for a couple of months, so make a good quantity)
2. Make the spice powder
3. Make the rice, and mix, add tempering