A thokku is a pickle from Tamil Nadu, made with grated vegetables or fruit. It can be made with any of onion, coriander and mint, carrots, green papaya, or whatever else is in season. This recipe, manga thokku, uses raw mangoes, which is the most common form of this pickle. It is hot and very tangy from the sourness of the raw mango.
This is another pickle with a long shelf life, lasting up to six months if prepared and stored correctly.
You must practice stringent food hygiene when preparing this dish. Do not allow any water into the preparation, as this will encourage mould to form. You must sterilise the containers to prevent any bacterial growth. The spices and acidity in this dish act as natural food preservatives, but don’t rely on them alone.
This is one of the easier pickles to make, but like all the similar recipes, patience is required to allow the flavours to develop fully. And by patience, I mean allowing some weeks after making before eating this pickle.
The important ingredient to prepare correctly is the mango itself. The recipe asks for coarsely shredded green mango. Some small chunks are acceptable, but the texture and flavour development needs the mango to be quite small. As the dish is largely uncooked, and uses raw mango, you must get this part right. An ordinary kitchen grater, using the coarser side would be suitable.
You also need to use the right oil. Chinese sesame oil is far, far too intense in its flavour. Indian sesame oil, or gingelly oil, is more like normal seed oils, such as safflower oil. If you cannot obtain Indian sesame oil, safflower oil is better substitute than Chinese sesame oil.
This pickle is ideal with any of the south Indian vegetable or lentil recipes. It is even good with just a roti.
Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add garlic, dried chillies, mustard seeds, chilli powder, turmeric and salt. Cook for two minutes, stirring, until fragrant.
Stir in the shredded mango and salt. Mix well, remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Firmly pack the mango mixture into a sterilised jar with a tight-fitting lid. Make sure mango mixture is completely covered with oil - if not, pour over a little extra oil. Set aside in a cool, dry place for two weeks, or until mango softens.
- Indian sesame oil is called gingelly oil, and is not the same as the Chinese variant, being less intense in flavour. A vegetable oil could be used as a substitute.
- Once opened, this pickle can be kept in the refrigerator for two months.
- Always allow pickle to come to room temperature before serving.