Tuesday, April 21, 2009

BEST EVER Thakkaali Oorugai - Amma's Slow roasted Tomato pickle


Every time we come home from the hostel and its time to go back, the following conversation would occur on the day before, between my mom and either me or my sister or both. We were in the same college and hostel so our timings to go back to the hostel would be the same.

Mom: What do you want to take along when you go back?
Me/my sister: Thakkali Oorugai
Mom: Just that?
Me/my sister: Yes.

By now, you all must know that I'm a big fan of my mom's cooking. Her Thakkali Oorugai, Thengai burfi, Ribbon pakodas, Prawns curry, Chinna Nellikai oorugai, Kozhi Rasam and Varuval, Kollu Chutney, Podi thooviya Surakai kulambu are exceptional. And her Thakkali Oorugai - THE BEST EVER!!!! We're really crazy about her Thakkali Oorugai. So are our friends. So were my hostel mates. So are her sons-in-law. Everybody, who tasted it once, fell in love with it. It's THAT good! And it goes with everything... Idli, dosa, rice, thayir saadam, poori, chapathi, bread, kambu saadam - it goes with just about any food (other than desserts) you can think of.. Heck! It even got me eat that dreaded upma without a flinch in my face. Like most of her recipes, this one has no precise measurements. Especially with a tomato pickle recipe, it's hard to write a precise recipe - Depends on how sour the tomatoes are...and how sweet, and how pasty and how ripe those tomatoes are. Hers is more of a method to make it, than a precise recipe.

Slow cooking the well ripe tomatoes and stirring it often - is one thing she insisted on, again and again. Now, standing near the hot stove stirring tomatoes is not my cup of Chai. I had to find a way to make it easier. I wished somebody would just suck the moisture of the tomatoes and leave the juiciness intact and make it more tastier.. Who would do it? I would! I would! Suddenly I heard a voice. Just kidding! But yes, it occured to me suddenly that somebody would just be willing to do that for me. My OVEN! The most favorite appliance in my kitchen.

The food processor dude (in case you are wondering, that's my DH) was glad to help as usual. He cut all those 5-6 pounds of well ripe tomatoes beautifully. I transferred that to a big glass casserole dish or two, drizzled olive oil, sprinkled some salt and roasted the tomatoes in the oven for a long time. About 2-8 hrs depending on what temperature I left the oven on. I stirred it whenever I remembered...maybe every hour or so. I also soaked some tamarind pieces in hot water, to compensate the sweet-but-not-sour taste from the tomatoes we get here. The oven took longer time to cook, but the flavor was better than the stove top version that I make and required very little stirring on my part. We loved the pickle and from then on, this is the only way, I make tomato pickles at home. I sometimes use the blender to crush the roasted tomatoes for me before finishing the pickles on stove top...and sometimes I use the roasted tomatoes as it is, for a nice chunky texture. Both taste great, it's really up to you to decide on which texture you prefer.

So, did it turn out exactly like my mom makes? Yes, I think so. DH thought so too but I did see him hide a smile when I asked that question...



Oven Roasted tomato pickle
Well Ripe Tomatoes - 5-6 pounds
Olive oil - 2 tbsp (you can use sesame oil for roasting the tomatoes in the oven too)
Sesame oil - 3 tbsp
Chilli powder - 2-5 tsp (or more)
Asafoetida - 1/8 tsp
Fenugreek seeds/Methi - 1 tsp
Mustard - 1 tsp + 1/2 tsp
Tamarind - a small lemon size
Curry leaves - two sprigs
Peeled garlic cloves- about a cup (slice lengthwise)
Sea salt - to taste

1. Soak the tamarind pieces in hot water.

2. Wash all the tomatoes and chop them into small pieces. Put all these in a glass baking dish or a stainless steel roaster (No aluminium pans please) and sprinkle some sea salt over this. drizzle some olive oil as well. Stir lightly and roast in the oven at 350 until the water is almost dried up. Don't let it get too dry as the tomatoes have to cook for sometime with the other ingredients for the flavors to fuse well. Let this cool down a bit. Meanwhile, let's get the other stuff ready.

3. Dry roast the methi seeds + mustard seeds (1 tsp each) and let it cool down. Make a fine powder using a spice grinder and keep it aside. I make a slightly larger batch and store it in a glass jar and use it, for all the pickles I make.

4. Extract thick pulp out of the tamarind.

5. Using a blender, slightly pulse the roasted tomatoes. (Just pulse it. Don't grind to a fine paste. The tomato seeds when crushed, turn bitter). You may skip this step, if you prefer chunky tomatoes in your pickle.

6. Heat the sesame oil in a thick bottomed stainless steel sauce pan and add the mustard seeds. When they pop, add the asafoetida, the garlic and curry leaves. Saute for 2 mins until the garlic is very lightly roasted. Add the tomatoes (chunky or pulp as you prefer), the tamarind pulp, red chilli powder and salt. Stir well for a minute or two and let it cook for sometime. It should be ready in 10-20 mins.

46 comments:

Asha said...

Gorgeous photo Kay, love the tomato pickle. Older generation had so much patience, while we always find short cuts!
I am posting my ajji's dish tomorrow, I made a short cut way. Your mom's recipe reminded of my ajji's slow cooking too! :)

indosungod said...

Love your new look Kay!

My mouth is watering already reading about the pickle. Can't wait to make some.

Subhie Arun said...

love ur new look kay...tomato pickle looks grt...

Ann said...

Wow.. I love this Oorugai.. Must be devine with curd rice.

Ann said...

Oh My God,am craving for some..loved your clicks and write up both...I am a beg fan of tomatoes too..would love to try this soon

FoodyGuru (Srimathi) said...

Thank you for the recipe. I love this oorugai esp with curd rice and puri. I was smiling reading your post. Great that it is oven roasted.

Kay said...

Thanks Asha! Yeah, They had so much patience... which I sorely lack in. :) Shortcuts are the way to go. Can't wait for your ajji's recipe.

Indo, thank you...and thanks very much for the template! Try it, it's very good.

Thanks Subhie, Ann and Foodyguru! Yeah, curd rice and this oorugai is the bestest combo ever.

Sandeepa said...

Your amma's (& yours) oven roasted tomato pickle looks lovely Kay

Madhuram said...

My grandmother used to prepare a roasted tomato chutney as well and it's my husband's favorite too. She used to roast the tomatoes in gas flame. Since I have an electric range, I prepare that chutney using store bought canned fire roasted tomatoes. But have to agree that the taste is as not as good as the one my grandmother used to prepare. I'm also going to try the oven roasting method.

I posted that recipe in my blog for JFI-Love event.
http://www.egglesscooking.com/2008/04/25/fire-roasted-tomato-chutney-jhiva-for-love/

Kay said...

Thanks Sandeepa! hope your second day went great!!

Madhu, fire roasted tomatoes! yes! My grandma used to make a fire roasted brinjal dish and it was very different from other dishes... the secret was adding fire roasted tomatoes as well. I'll check out your chutney. Maybe grilling the tomatoes on a barbeque might give similar results?

bindiya said...

I love tomato pickle, u must also mention how ur mom makes it on the stove top?the oven though is a lot easier, but just in case one wants to make it the other way?

Kay said...

Bindiya, Same recipe - slow cooking on stove top, stirring it often. :)

Malar Gandhi said...

Very nice picture...

Yeah...who wouldnt like thakkali thokku dear. Count me in.

Yeah Mommy's are always like that...hard working in the kitchen.

This also reminds my hostel days...you gueseed it right, love to take just tomato pickle.

bee said...

thank you. when we get out tomato harvest, i'd love to try this.

Shyam said...

Now here's a really different tomato thokku recipe.... brilliant! :) You know I'm going to try it.

Kay said...

Malar, yeah, who doesn't love a good tomato pickle? Thokku,oorugai - all one and the same for tomato.

You are welcome Bee, with your homegrown tomatoes, I bet it's going to be just amazing.

Shyam, yeah, a really different recipe! When I first started making this, I had my doubts... but it turned out delicious.. Do tell how it went.

Anonymous said...

Dear Kay,
Thanks for sharing that lovely thakkali oorukai. Great picture.
Nilaa,
Maldives

Asha said...

Kay, just saw your comment at Aroma and replied. You are right, water is way low. I think I was just thinking of 1 1/2 cups of rice to cook when I typed 3 cups of water, you need at least 4 cups or more for 2 1/2 cups rice and dal! I edited, thanks girl! :)

If you use Bulgur, water may need to be adjusted again. Enjoy.

Kay said...

Thanks Nilaa. :)

Thank you Asha! I'll try it with 4.5 cups of water. Thanks for finding me and letting me know. You are so sweet.

Pearlsofeast said...

I tried this recipe today and it came out very good. I am enjoying this with Dosa. Thanks

Kay said...

Pearlsofeast, That was quick! Glad you liked it!

Swetha said...

hi
i recently came accross your blog and like your blog. i have also started a foodblog recently.keep up your good work and i wish u a very success.

cheers
swethaskitchen.com

Sharmi said...

ahhhaaaa vai oorude!! How do I get to taste it?? Have to try this sometime. Hope all is fine at your end!

Kay said...

Thanks Shweta! Goodluck to you too!

Sharmi! :) come over... I'll make a huge bottle of thakkali oorugai for you. All is well here, slowly settling down in the new apt.

Sig said...

You changed your template? Looks great Kay! That pickle looks lovely too!

Kay said...

Thanks Sig! Indosungod helped me with the template.

The pickle was sure yummmm!

Gattina said...

GREAT recipe! I love the flavor of slow-roasted stuff. Later when the tomato at peak (so as cheaper), I got to try this wonderful recipe, a big thank!

Kay said...

Hi Gattina, glad to see you here! :)

anudivya said...

I wish I could lay my hands on that jar now... and your blog looks different, or is it just me and my long break giving me illusions?

Kay said...

Anudivya, that jar is all empty now. :) Sorry, maybe next time?

And yes, the blog did get a long due makeover thanks to Indosungod.

Yasmeen said...

Slow roasted must make this one deletable pickle.Its just that tomatoes here usually don't have the luscious red color,I'll definitely try this next time I buy plum red tomatoes:)

Kay said...

Making slow roasted tomato pickle with Plum red tomatoes sounds soooooo good, Yasmeen!

Vani said...

I've never tried to make pickes at home before. I LOVE tomato thokku. The picture looks lovely!

Kay said...

Try it, Vani... It's really easy and far better than storebought ones.

Rachel said...

Slow cooking always lends an unexplainable flavour. Good one!

sugar & spice said...

ooh i love thakali oorukai. Had a bottle at my place not too long ago and now I'm feeling like having some again.

Kay said...

I totally agree, Rachel! Slow cooking does bring out the deep flavors of the food.

Sugar and Spice, glad you stopped by. I feel like having some of that oorugai too. Maybe I'll make some more soon. :)

Asha said...

Hi Kay, thanks girl. Glad to be back home!

I was busy raising kids all these yrs, didn't feel like leaving them before. Now that they are grown, I have more time to enjoy myself.

Have a fun Summer , see you in Sept!:)

Asha said...

Kay, you are the sweetest girl.
Just read your DMC post, thank you so much!! Made me feel so better today as I am recovering.
I am sure you will be me and more than me in time to your kids and family as well, I have no doubt. Hugs to you!:))

Kay said...

It's my pleasure, Asha! :) You inspire me, and I'm sure there are tons more of people who are inspired by you everyday. Enjoy your summer!

Parita said...

Hi Kay..first time here..what lovely blog you have..dunno how i missed it :) i love tomato pickle and i bet yours must have tasted heavenly..i had made it sometime back but got over in a week, i'll use your recipe this time :) i do love slow roasting but many a times due to time shortage we go for short cuts, thanks for sharing and will visit regularly now :)

Kay said...

Welcome here Parita, you have a nice blog too! I just popped there. I love your profile picture! See you around.

pedatha1 said...

Dear kay, Nothing like a great pickle recipe from our elders...looks simply yum and brings back childhood flavours to memory.

Kay said...

Getting a comment from you guys is always a pleasure and brings a smile! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Can We Microwave Tomato Tamarind pulp at low medium power after tempering with mustard and roasting garlic?
When do we add mutard Methi Powder
Regards
Baskaran

Kay said...

baskaran, if you want to use a microwave, use in place of oven. and finish it using stove top as mentioned in the recipe.