Monday, April 12, 2010

Versatile Side-dish...Back to the grass-roots of South-Indian Cuisine

Nowadays, most of the side-dishes I prepare...I try to make as versatile as possible. In the sense, that I try to serve them with breads, rice, dosas, idlis, rotis and so on. I find that by making my side-dishes as flexible as possible and switching around the main dish at a couple of meal-times, whether rice or rotis or bread...all the food I prepare is used up much faster rather than sitting in the cool comfort of the refrigerator for a while.

This side-dish I have here is one of that versatile kind...a simple bell-pepper relish also known in Southern India as thokku...this is bell-pepper or capsicum thokku. It is tangy with a hint of sweetness to it...not too spicy either...atleast my version...though you could of course, enhance the spice level by increasing the quantity of spices used. However you make it, I am sure you will continue to repeat this recipe many times over, as I have been doing...very simple and pain-free prep as well. My mother as well as mother-in-law tend to make this same relish or thokku with many different main ingredients like raw green mango or tomatoes or ginger root...they all appeal to me, equally;) I could eat this any time of day with or without a main dish:))

Notes: I used 2 to 3 tsps cooking oil but if you use a a little more oil, the end-product will stay fresh in the refrigerator for over a week.

Recipe for Sweet & Tangy Bell-pepper Relish(Capsicum Thokku):
Serves: 4
Prep/cook time: 20 mins

Bell-pepper (aka capsicum) - 4 shredded in thin strips(I used the green ones though you could use any other color)
Tomato - 1 or 2 medium size chopped
Onion - 1 medium size chopped
Tamarind pulp - 2 tbsp
Jaggery - crushed 1tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Asafoetida(aka Hing) - a pinch
Fenugreek(Methi) powder - 1 tsp
Coriander(dhania) powder - 1 tbsp
Chilly powder - 1 tsp
Salt - As reqd
Turmeric - 1/4 to 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - a few(optional)
Cooking oil - 2 to 3 tsp(I used gingelly oil that is til oil though any vegetable oil should work fine)

In a frying pan, add the oil and mustard and when the mustard seeds start to crackle, add the chopped onions.

When the onions start to turn crisp, add the shredded bell-pepper and all the spice powders/seasonings  + salt and let cook for a few minutes.

When the bell-pepper starts to change color and becomes translucent, add the chopped tomatoes and the tamarind pulp and jaggery.

Let the mixture cook uncovered for a few minutes(should take about 7 to 8 mins on a medium flame)...stir every now and then...also add a little water so the mixture does not turn extremely dry...the end-product should be well-combined...the ideal consistency is somewhat curry-like (though not gravy-like).

Finally, garnish with curry leaves. This relish can be served warm or at room temperature with rice, on breads as a spread or with rotis or Indian pancakes like idli or dosa.

Note: Ethnic ingredients for this dish are available at Asian/Indian grocery stores.


  1. This dish sounds lovely spicy and delicious ideal with rotis and parathas.

  2. Tempting ...delicious. Ideal side dish for tiffin menus. thanks for sharing dear.

  3. Delicious looking thokku. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Fantastic thokku, looks prefect with rice and rotis..

  5. Recipe is so nice, love capsicum and its flavour makes any dish more tasty...lovely one

  6. Hy dear,

    Plz collect your awards from my blog.

  7. Hey Meena,
    The recipe looks so delicious...

  8. Meena,

    Thoku looks really yummy.

  9. Tasty and spicy dish it with rotis or parathas!!

  10. This thokku is new to me Meena...looks tasty, this must go well with rice...I have bookmarked this one dear...thanks for sharing this :)

  11. Very Nice Looking Thokku dear.Spicy and great looking .

    Hamaree Rasoi

  12. spicy and yumm..That makes a lot of sense when you say, you want to cook versatile dishes...lifesavers...

  13. love the ingredients..really nice and different recipe

  14. Mouthwatering, looks tempting and delicious.

  15. capsicum thokku sounds authentic and real good!!!

    love the addition of jaggery in the preparartion!!! I love all thokkus too !!! nice recipe!!

  16. Capsicum thokku...sounds delicious.

  17. Delicious side dish! loved the addition of tamarind and jaggery.Thanks for sharing

  18. I like Indian food so I do enjoy inspirations like this. Thanks :D


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