Vengayam Thakkali Thokku is a delicious chunky onion and tomato chutney flavored with delicious South Indian spices like curry leaves, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, and garlic! It is a perfect condiment that transports so well in lunch boxes and pairs so perfectly with rotis, dosas, and idlis.
This tomato onion thokku or thakkali thokku was a staple side dish growing up. Traditionally it is eaten with dishes like thayir sadam (yogurt rice) or roti as a condiment. However, this chutney is also the base for my Indian style bruschetta with ricotta, which nestles this chutney on top of a toasted baguette slice and rich ricotta cheese for a delicious Indian fusion appetizer!
- Garlic - Adds umami to this dish.
- Mustard Seeds - Adds depth. Too much can make your chutney bitter.
- Cumin Seeds
- Coriander Powder
- Kashmiri Chili Powder - Kashmiri chili powder is my go-to as it provides a nice red color and a subtle heat to my dishes. You can alternatively substitute ½ the quantity of your favorite chili powder instead and then add more as desired.
- Curry Leaves - Curry leaves give dishes their iconic Indian taste. There is no real substitute. Check out your local Indian store to find some near you. If you can't find it, you can leave it out of the recipe.
- Tomato - Pick your favorite tomatoes for this recipe. Go with a variety that is in season and that you love to eat! You can alternatively use crushed peeled tomatoes from a can if tomatoes aren't in season.
- Onion - Red, white, or yellow onion will work beautifully in this recipe.
Thokku vs. chutney vs. pickle
The terms thokku, chutney, and pickle are often used interchangeably. However, thokkus tend to be chunkiest of the three, chutneys are more finely ground than thokkus, and pickles are the most sour and have the longest shelf life.
Tips for making vengayam thakkali thokku
- Don't burn the spices in oil. The first step of this recipe is to temper or sizzle the spices in the oil to infuse it with their flavor. However, if you burn the spices during this process it will result in a bitter chutney. Simply start over if this happens.
- Dry curry leaves before adding them into the oil to prevent splatter. The curry leaves will inevitably pop a little because they contain water, but make sure they are not drenched in water when adding them to the hot oil or else the oil will spatter all over the place.
- Allow the onions to soften before adding tomatoes.
- Wait for the tomatoes to soften and their juices to evaporate. It is really important to wait for the tomatoes to mix and meld with the spices and completely break down and thicken. You want the juices to evaporate and the raw taste of the tomatoes to disappear, leaving a sweet roasted flavor instead.
- Add sugar to round out flavors. You'll notice that there is a bit of sugar in the recipe. This isn't there to make the dish sweet but rather to round out the spice blend. When tomatoes are in season and are sweet this ingredient isn't as necessary as the tomatoes provide the sweetness, but this is insurance in the recipe for when the tomatoes are not optimal.
- Taste chutney for salt. Please taste your food for salt. You could be using a different type of salt than me so make sure to taste and adjust your seasonings accordingly.
- Use crushed canned tomatoes when tomatoes aren't in season. Canned tomatoes are canned at peak tomato freshness so they are a better alternative in the winter time when tomatoes are not very fresh.
How to store chutney
This chutney stores beautifully in the fridge and can last for up to a week there. To increase the shelf life of the chutney, you can increase the amount of oil in the recipe and the chutney will last even longer. You can also freeze chutney in a freezer-safe container or bag for up to six months!
Frequently Asked Questions
This thokku lasts in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Alternatively, you can add additional oil to the chutney recipe to increase its shelf life.
Yes. It is totally fine to use crushed, peeled, canned tomatoes, especially when tomatoes are not in season.
Any type of onion will work for this recipe from red to white!