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  • Rohan Kamicheril

Onion Thokku

onion thokku

This chutney is a variation on the ginger thokku that is traditionally served alongside pesarattu, the green gram and rice crêpes made in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Where the ginger version has a raw, fierce flavor, the onion version is sweet and relatively mild, with just a gentle heat. Serve this alongside fried snacks, as a dip, use it to spice up a stir-fry, or you could even thin it out with a little lemon juice and use it as a fragrant and unique salad dressing.



Makes approximately 1.5 cups


1 tsp oil

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

2 tsp urad dhal

2 tsp chana dhal

1 medium red onion, peeled and roughly chopped

1 tbsp jaggery

2 tbsp tamarind pulp, free of strings and seeds

Salt to taste


2 tsp oil

1 tsp black mustard seeds

The stripped leaves from one stem of fresh curry leaves


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

Add the red chillies, chana dhal, and onion and sauté for 4–5 minutes, or until the spices and the onion are glossy and the onion has begun to get lightly caramelized at the edges.

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. Add the curry leaves and step back—they will sizzle impressively and throw off hot oil.

Pour the hot oil, curry leaves, and mustard seeds over the onion thokku and mix well to combine. Serve at room temperature with pesarattu, dosa, or let your imagination run wild.

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