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  • Rohan Kamicheril

Ginger Thokku

This is a recipe that my sister shared with me—one that she in turn got from her mother-in-law. It’s a fiery, pungent chutney that’s altogether different from the chutneys often served at many Indian restaurants. The heat in this dish comes not from the chillies (though it could: don’t use a chilli that you’re not comfortable eating!), but from the ginger. Since the ginger is barely cooked in this dish it preserves a raw, spiky flavor that I really love, but which doesn’t go with everything. I wouldn’t serve it with anything too light like crudités. Where it really shines is alongside freshly made pesarattu, dosa-like crêpes made out of green gram and rice. It’s also equally delicious with other fried snacks like pakoras, bhajjis, or vadas.



Makes approximately 1 cup


1 tsp oil

3–4 whole dried red chillies (or to taste)

2 tsp urad dhal

2 tsp chana dhal

1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

1 tbsp jaggery

2 tbsp tamarind pulp, free of strings and seeds

Salt to taste


2 tsp vegetable oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds


In a medium-sized pan, heat the oil over high heat till it begins to shimmer.

Add the red chillies, chana dhal, and ginger and sauté for a minute, or until the spices and the ginger are aromatic and glossy.

Turn off the heat and let the contents of the pan cool for 5 minutes before adding to a blender or food processor.

Grind along with the jaggery, tamarind, and salt until smooth. Add a little water as needed to keep the ingredients moving. Check for seasoning and adjust the jaggery, salt, and tamarind to taste.

Pour the mixture into a bowl and prepare the hot oil seasoning.

In a small pan, heat the oil till it begins to shimmer.

Add the mustard seeds and let them sizzle in the hot oil until they begin to pop.

Pour the hot oil and mustard seeds over the ginger chutney and mix well to combine. Serve at room temperature with pesarattu. Though I should note that it is equally delicious with pakoras and other fried Indian snacks. (it’s actually delicious just served as a dip with potato chips!)

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