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):
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.