The husband recently left on a 10-day international work trip, a move I am not too happy about for a lot of reasons. Anyway, as he says, work has to be done and, in the course of it, work trips do need to be undertaken. As he embarked on this journey, I wanted him to carry a little piece of home with him, to get him through stressful days and loneliness. Hence, a batch of Lemon Thokku got made a day before he left, got packed into a nice, air-tight bottle, and flew off with him.
This is not the first time I have made Lemon Thokku, though. It is something much loved in our family and, hence, gets made often. I love the sweet-sour-spicy flavours of this thokku, the lemon peel lending it a slight bitterness. Call it Lemon Thokku or Instant Lemon Chutney, I find it incredibly versatile – it goes beautifully with everything from dosas and parathas to plain steamed rice.
Making this thokku is a very simple task, one that takes just about 20 minutes in all, prep included. I make it whenever I manage to find fresh, juicy lemons cheap, and keep it refrigerated to use when the need arises. This way, it stays for up to 20 days.
Try it out, will you? I would love to know how you liked it!
Here is how we make Lemon Thokku aka Instant Lemon Chutney.
Ingredients (makes about half mason jar):
- 10 big fresh lemons
- Salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 tablespoons jaggery powder or to taste
- Red chilli powder to taste
For the tempering:
- 2-3 tablespoons gingelly oil
- 2 teaspoons mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
- 4-5 dry red chillies
- 2 tablespoons fresh curry leaves
- Wash the lemons well under running water. Pat completely dry, using a cotton cloth.
- Cut each lemon into half. Now, cut each half into quarters. So, you should get 8 small pieces out of each lemon.
- Remove all the seeds from each lemon piece. This is crucial, to ensure that your Lemon Thokku does not become too bitter.
- When all the seeds have been removed, transfer the lemon pieces to a mixer jar. Grind to a paste.
- Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard seeds and allow them to pop. Add the curry leaves, the asafoetida and the dried red chillies. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.
- Turn the flame to medium, and add the lemon paste to the pan.
- Add in salt to taste, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and the jaggery powder. Mix well.
- Cook on low-medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the Lemon Thokku begins to thicken and come together. Switch off gas.
- Let the Lemon Thokku cool down completely before transferring it to a clean, dry, air-tight container. Store refrigerated, and use a clean, dry spoon to remove the thokku.
1. The Lemon Thokku will taste slightly bitter initially. Allow it one or two days for the taste to stabilise.
2. Adjust the quantity of jaggery powder, salt and red chilli powder as per your personal taste preferences.
3. Use very fresh lemons and curry leaves, for best results.
4. Gingelly oil works best in making this Lemon Thokku. However, if you do not have gingelly oil, you may use any other type of oil that you prefer.
5. This Lemon Thokku stays for up to 20 days when stored under hygienic conditions, refrigerated.