It's day three of vegan Mofo and I am keeping the chutney theme alive! Check out the amazing vegans from the US and all over the world who are taking part this year.
Thokku (toh-kuh) is the south Indian way of describing a type of chutney. A thokku is usually made by grating and cooking a vegetable to remove the water out of it and then adding the flavouring after it is cooked. South Indian chutneys are usually coconut heavy. A thokku will not involve coconut unlike a thogayal (tho-hail) which is another type of chutney made with mostly raw vegetables. The spiciness usually comes from red chilli powder as opposed to dried red chillies in a thogayal. And that is your Tamil lesson for the day!
Apple thokku is something my grandma makes pretty often. You have to be really lucky to be able to witness the greatness of your grandmothers in the kitchen. I still remember helping my great grandmother in the kitchen. She is too old to cook now, but the memories of her wrinkly hands making perfectly symmetrical murukkus is something I won't forget.
India is lucky to have apples growing in the north of the country. When those apples are not in season, we get the Washington, Granny Smith and Fuji apples too. Unfortunately the vendors are spraying or coating the apples with wax and sometimes thin aluminium foil to make them look shiny and "appealing". I hate peeling my fruits and vegetables, but I certainly don't want to eat wax. To check if your apple has been "waxed" take the non-sharp end of a knife and scrape your apple. If you find a creamy off-white substance coming off the skin it has something on it. Try it and tell me what you find. I also am not an raw apple person. I know I'm killing most of the nutrition from it when I cook an apple, but I'd eat an apple pie any day over a slice of apple.
This thokku is very simple to make and takes about 15 minutes from start to finish. I have made this recipe oil-free so it will not stay as long as it normally would otherwise. The sweetness of the cooked apple and the hot hit from the chilli powder is a very interesting flavour. I initially didn't like the idea of mixing fruit with something spicy, but as you grow older you tend to be a little more adventurous.
2 Apples, peeled and cored
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/8th tsp asafoetida
1/2 tsp jaggery
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Grate the apples with a medium holed grater. Heat a small pan and add the mustard seeds. When they begin to splutter, add the asafoetida. Add the apples and let it cook for about 6-8 minutes. Stir it around occasionally. Once the apples are soft and the water has drained off, add the salt, chilli powder and jaggery. Keep it for a minute more and then take it off the flame. Add the lime juice and store in a jar in the refrigerator.
This apple thokku could be a replacement for a pickle. It can be used as an accompaniment with some roti or a rice dish or even on top of a slice of bread or with dosa.