Tomato Thokku (Pickle/Chutney)

Tomato Thokku

Tomato thokku is an all-natural, tangy, spicy, sweet pickle/chutney, that can be made in a jiffy using fresh tomatoes and some simple spices. Visually glorious with its deep red hues, it is also very versatile and makes for a perfect accompaniment to dosas, idlis, even yogurt rice, or as a spread for rotis/chapatis/breads, or can be mixed with rice to make a delicious version of tomato rice!

I learned this recipe from my husband’s side of the family. When I was pregnant, my husband’s cousin sister, Banu, sent some yummy tomato thokku for me from the east coast and was I hooked or what! It has now become a family favorite!

Ingredients (makes about 3/4th cup of thokku):

  • Tomatoes (I used campari tomatoes on the vine, but any tomatoes should work – 1 lb)
  • Sesame oil (1 tbsp)
  • Mustard seeds (2/3 tsp)
  • Asafetida (hing) powder (1/4 tsp)
  • Fenugreek (methi) powder (1/4 tsp)
  • Turmeric (haldi) powder (1/4 tsp)
  • Dry red chilly powder (per taste)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Tamarind paste (1/2 tsp)
  • Sugar/jaggery (1/2 tsp)


  • Puree the tomatoes completely to a consistency that you are comfortable with – if you want chunks, make the puree chunky, if you want it to be smooth, that is fine too, just grind more.
  • Heat sesame oil on medium flame. Add mustard seeds.
  • When they splutter, add the asafetida, fenugreek, turmeric powders and then the tomato puree.

Tomato Thokku - Pureed Tomatoes

  • Continue cooking on medium flame, stirring every once in a while.
  • When some of the water begins to evaporate, add salt, tamarind, sugar, red chilly powder and mix well.
  • If the tomato paste starts spurting out, reduce the flame.
  • The thokku is ready when all the water has evaporated.

Tomato Thokku - Done

  • Tomato thokku stores well in the refrigerator in an air-tight glass jar for a few days because of the oil and salt. Enjoy with your favorite accompaniments!

Tastes (Rasa):

Sweet (sugar, oil), sour (tomatoes), salty (salt), bitter (fenugreek), pungent (chilly), astringent (asafetida).

Doshic Influence:

Tomatoes are pitta aggravating by nature. But, if the thokku is made mild (yet flavorful) without overdoing the pungent, sour and salty tastes, and consumed in moderation, the pitta aggravating effect will be reduced considerably. The sharpness and warming nature of this dish makes it very good for kaphas. The presence of warm, digestive spices and ingredients makes this a great dish for vatas also. Pittas can also have this in moderation – go easy on the chilly, tamarind and salt!

Effects on the Mind (Gunas):

Any pickle, in excess is rajasic in nature. Also if made pungent, too sour or too salty, rajas increases. If made and eaten fresh, using fresh, organic ingredients,with a mild, yet flavorful taste and eaten in moderation, rajas reduces and sattva increases.



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