Gongura thokku, a spicy gongura (sorrel leaf) chutney, is a very popular dish from the state of Andhra Pradesh. It makes for a beautiful accompaniment to piping hot ghee rice, and the husband and I love thulping it down with dosas as well. I learnt the recipe from a friend of my mom’s, who hailed from Andhra Pradesh, and it has been practised and perfected over time. My 92-year-old granny, who was brought up in Bellary alongside Telugu neighbours, approves of it, too.
This gongura thokku recipe is my submission for this month’s Shhhh Cooking Secretly challenge. I was paired with the talented food blogger Amrita Iyer, who blogs at The Food Samaritan. She assigned me my two secret ingredients to prepare a dish from the cuisine of Andhra Pradesh, the theme of the month – gongura and chillies. I was more than happy to use them to prepare this family recipe.
Here’s how I make the gongura thokku.
Ingredients (makes about 1/2 of a regular jam jar):
For the spice mix:
- 7-8 dry red chillies, or as per taste
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds (dhania)
- 1 tablespoon toor dal
- 1 tablespoon chana dal
- 1/2 tablespoon urad dal
- 1/2 teaspoon methi (fenugreek) seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 tablespoon oil
For the tempering:
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 3-4 generous pinches of asafoetida powder (hing)
- 1 large bunch of gongura aka sorrel leaves
- Salt, to taste
- 2 tablespoons oil
- First, we will prep the gongura or sorrel leaves. Separate the leaves from the stems and place in a colander. Wash them thoroughly under running water, ensuring that no mud remains. Pat dry using a cotton cloth, as best as you can. You could even leave them wrapped in a cotton cloth for a few minutes, which will help them get dry faster.
- Next up, we will saute the prepped gongura leaves. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan. Add a handful of the dried gongura leaves and, stirring constantly, allow them to wilt down. Add another handful of leaves and allow them to, similarly, wilt down. Wilt all the leaves in this manner. Keep stirring, to ensure that the leaves do not stick to the bottom of the pan. Transfer to a plate, and allow to cool down entirely.
- Let us then get the spice mix ready. For this, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan. Reduce the flame, and add in the dry red chillies, coriander seeds, chana dal, urad dal, toor dal and fenugreek seeds. Fry till the ingredients emit a gorgeous fragrance, taking care not to burn them. Transfer onto a plate and allow to cool completely. When the ingredients have entirely cooled down, mix in the turmeric powder. Keep aside.
- Take the cooled-down spice ingredients in a mixer, and pulse just for a second. Now, add in the wilted gongura leaves, and mix well. Crush coarsely.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, and add in the mustard seeds. Allow them to splutter. Add in the asafoetida, and let it stay in for a couple of seconds. Add the ground gongura-spice paste, along with salt to taste. Cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes, or till you get a thick paste.
- Let the chutney cool down completely, and then transfer it to a clean, dry, air-tight bottle. Keep refrigerated when not in use. Use only a clean, dry spoon to remove the chutney. Stored this way, the chutney stays good for up to 10 days.
- Serve with piping hot ghee rice or dosas.
- 1 large bunch of gongura should give you about 1 large serving bowl full of leaves.
- Finely chopped garlic and/or onion can be added to the tempering, too. I usually avoid that. Curry leaves can be added as well.
- I have seen people using a whole lot more oil than I have used here. I try and restrict the quantity of oil I use, so I feel comfortable consuming the chutney.
- Increase or decrease the quantity of dry red chillies you use, depending upon how hot you want the chutney to be.
- You can prep the gongura leaves and leave them out to dry in the sun for a day (if you get ample sunlight where you stay, that is!). You can then proceed to make the chutney the next day. In fact, this is exactly how this pickle is made traditionally.
- You can even use a mortar and pestle to crush the spices and the gongura leaves, instead of a mixer. I use the mixer, for speed and ease.
- Make sure you pat dry as much of the moisture off the gongura leaves as you can. The shelf life of the chutney will decrease if there are traces of moisture on the leaves.
- A dash of jaggery can also be added to the chutney, if you’d prefer it. I usually skip this step.
- Remember that the spices and gongura need to be just coarsely ground. Don’t make a fine paste in the mixer.
Do you like this recipe? I hope you will try it out and that you will like it as much as we do. Don’t forget to share your feedback with me!