Saturday, January 29, 2011

Karuvepillai thokku (Curry leaves relish)

The events unfolding in Egypt brings back memories of some of my best times. Not the events but the place. It has made me glued to the TV watching all the seemingly impossible events unfolding.

Besides India and US, Egypt is the only other country I had spent a considerable amount of time. It was also the first foreign country I ever visited and hence occupies a special place in my heart. It was the mid 90s and a carefree time. I always knew when I left Egypt I would have to find a job and become responsible and that life in general would catch up.

Remember fondly of the friendly people and being able to communicate without knowing a word of Arabic. Of course we visited all the historic places this is where my palate got adjusted to foods outside of those I knew at home.

Most Egyptians on the street stopped to ask about India and about Bollywood movies and Amitabh Bachaan in particular. The foods from the freshly roasted corn sold by street vendors, falafel, Koshary and Phool all made me feel right at home food wise.

The presence of armed guards on most tall buildings was enough to remind that the political system in the country was not quite that of India or US. The will of the people cannot be suppressed for long can it?. It is not wrong to ask for freedom of expression and speech is it?

My cousin visiting from Florida and he brought a lot of curry leaves. A friend of his has quiet a few trees in his backyard and he usually packs enough to last a long time. Fresh curry leaves are a delight when used for seasoning we all know that. We also know that curry leaves made into curry is tasty besides packing a nutrient punch.

Priya of Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes had just the right recipe for the curry leaves curry I was looking for.

Karuvepillai thokku
1. 2 -3 cups of curry leaves with stems removed
2. 1/2 cup of finely diced red onion
3. 6-8 garlic cloves halved
4. seasonings: Cumin and mustard seeds
5. 1/2 tbsp of sesame oil (use a much or less as you want. See Note)
6. 1 cup of raw peanuts
7. 1 tbsp jaggery
8. 1 cup of tamarind extract from a lime sized piece of tamarind (soak and extract the pulp)
9. 2 tsp rice - roast and powder (optional, I did not use it, see Notes)

For the Paste
1. 6 red chilies
2. 1 tsp toor dal
3. 2 tsp coriander seeds
4. 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
5. 2 tsp pepper corn

Dry roast the above first the toor dal till it turns slightly brown keep aside. Roast the rest of the ingredients and set aside to cool. In the same pan roast the curry leaves for a minute or two. Blend the above to a smooth paste with the required amount of water.

1. Boil the raw peanuts and drain completely
2. In a wide mouthed pan (kadai) heat the oil and add the seasonings. Add the onions and saute till it turns slightly brown
3. Add the garlic and let it saute for a minute
4. Add in the tamarind pulp and let it come to a boil
5. Add in the curry leaves paste,salt and let it boil and thicken. Drizzle more sesame oil at this point
5. Add in the peanuts,jaggery and let it boil for 10 minutes more. If you used a couple of tbsp of oil you will see oil separating at this stage

Will stay for a few days without refrigeration.

Mix it with rice and this curry leaves thokku is irresistible with some crispy chips or vadagam.

1. Use a minimum of 2 tbsp of oil if you want to preserve the thokku for a longer time.
2. Cook down to remove all the moisture so it stays fresh longer
3. If the paste gets too watery add the roasted and powdered rice to thicken the sauce


  1. Karuvepillai thokku with peanuts is absolutely new to me but that looks so very inviting. I've only tasted the one from grandsweets and my daughter loves that - even mixes it into her mac and cheese.

  2. My hubby who also spent a few months there during his official visit, used to say that Egypt is one of the most safe countries to visit! This curry leaves recipe is very new and sounds interesting.

  3. I love curry leaf. have tried making podis and would like to try this thokku. I have a curry leaf tree of my own!

    To make the curry leaf paste, just grind the leaves with a little bit of water?

  4. Anita, yes grind the curry leaves with a bit of water along with the toor dal and the other roasted spices. The water will be cooked out when it is left to simmer. I forgot to mention the roasted rice powder to thicken the sauce if it is too thin.

  5. Anita, thank you, I fixed the post to reflect the paste making with using water. And you'd love this
    tangy, slightly bitter, spicy thokku.

  6. this sounds like a very different kind of recipe. I have a teeny tiny plant, and i don't think it would have enough leaves to make this.

  7. Am honoured, with peanuts thokku looks extremely inviting, will try to add peanuts while i'll prepare next time..

  8. nice post and the thokku looks delish !

  9. wow, very interesting. I remember seeing it at Priya's site. Looks delicious.

  10. Wow - very interesting recipe!

    BTW, The Egyptian people should be careful what they wish for - remember Iran? they thought they were fighting for democracy but from a forward looking liberal country look where they ended up after overthrowing the Shah of Iran! I fear that the Islamist terrorist groups may take advantage of the people's force to overthrow Mubarak but give them back another worse form of "government"


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