Easy Thakkali Thokku Recipe | South Indian Tomato Pickle Recipe | One Pot One Shot Recipes
UPDATE (May 3, 2020):

Since posting this recipe, OPOS rules have evolved a lot. One of them being very strict about using open pot cooking. I cannot strictly use the term OPOS® for this post since I have cooked the thokku again (after pressure cooking) towards the end in open pot to thicken it. This is not recommended in OPOS rules. So, I am removing the term from my title. But since I have followed the rest of the methodology like layering in a pressure cooker, I feel obligated to let OPOS term remain in the post as accreditation. Hence this update.

There you are, blissfully going through your daily routine of cooking, chopping veggies, daydreaming - in general just going through your day to day chores. Then suddenly one day your husband is in a good mood and offers to sharpen your knife to make your chopping easier. You think your knife is all good - but husband offering to do anything is rare and you think you should let him! He sets about the task and in about 10min you are asked to test drive. You are indifferent but you do it anyway. You chop that tomato and the knife goes sharp down, slicing neatly without even a little bit of squish to the tomato. You are shocked! Hey - waiiitttaaaminute? What happened just now? You chop some more and realise that your job got done in half the time and much neater than all these months and to think you thought your knife was working perfectly fine!
Easy Thakkali Thokku Recipe | South Indian Tomato Pickle Recipe | One Pot One Shot Recipes
OPOS® was EXACTLY like that for me when I was first introduced to it. Invented by Ramki of One Page Cookbooks fame  and developed further by a group of like minded members this One Pot One Shot cooking technique is unlike any other in the cooking world. I did not know I needed it until I started using it. It uses one of the most staple gadgets in an Indian's household - Pressure Cooker, to make well rounded, wholesome, simplified, quick, effortless and nutritionally superior day to day recipes. That's a long claim isn't it? It sure is and from what I have witnessed, I have to agree.  People who know me are aware of my penchant for Green Living and that aspect of OPOS® drew me to it. Extremely less/no water wastage, low usage of electricity/Gas, less number of dishes to wash, a complete meal in less than 20-30 minutes of almost hands off cooking has made me a student of this technique. Will talk about it more with recipes to come in future. Until then, let's get into a recipe using this technique.
Easy Thakkali Thokku Recipe | South Indian Tomato Pickle Recipe | One Pot One Shot Recipes
We had abundant harvest of tomatoes from our home garden and I decided to use them to make a family favourite - thokku. Thokku is a South Indian equivalent of a pickle. This tangy pickle makes use of only Tomatoes (Thakkali) since I had to use them. But you can add in Onions and/or Garlic to make for variations. Please make sure to follow every instruction as given in order to enjoy the benefits of OPOS® cooking. Like baking, it is a precise science - worth a study; but once done, you will be rewarded with extremely satisfying results!  
  • Cook time:
  • Prep time:
  • Yields: Depending on the tomatoes (and how much water content it has), you would get anywhere between 350 grams - 500 grams
  • 2.2lbs (1 kilo) Tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp Sesame oil, or as per taste
  • 1 heaped tbsp Red Chilli Powder/Kashmiri Chilli Powder, see Tips
  • 1 tsp Turmeric Powder,
  • 1/2 tsp Fenugreek Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Asafoetida powder,
  • 1-1/2 tsp - 2 tsp Salt, or to taste
To Temper
  • 1 tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 1 tbsp Mustard Seeds
Optional Additions
  • 1 tbsp Grated Jaggery or to taste, see Tips
  • 1 tsp concentrated Tamarind paste (optional), see Tips
  • Substitute some of the tomatoes with equal amount of Onions to make Tomato Onion Thokku
  • Substitute some of the tomatoes with peeled Garlic to make Tomato Garlic Thokku.
1. Tamarind: The addition of Tamarind is only in cases when your tomatoes are not sour/tangy. Depending on the sourness, adjust the tamarind accordingly. I used a mix of different varieties of tomatoes from our garden and few were tangy enough, hence skipped its addition. I find different brands have different concentrated pastes, so use your prudence in deciding the amount. If you do not have concentrated paste, you can add 1 amla (gooseberry) sized tamarind - deseeded. You can also use a little bit of Vinegar instead of tamarind.

2. Jaggery: If your tomatoes are naturally very tangy/sour, addition of some jaggery helps to balance it out a bit. I added the required amount in this recipe to help compliment the tomatoes.

3. Red Chilli Powder: If you like your thokku/pickle spicy, I would recommend adding a generous tbsp (at least) of Red Chilli powder. Otherwise add Kashmiri Chilli Powder to give you the bright color without too much heat.
1. Cut the top of the tomatoes and chop them roughly into smaller pieces. Or pulse for few times in your blender to make a coarse slush. I keep the skin, hence in this method you will find the end product with bits of skin in every spoonful. If you would rather prefer a smooth paste, I would suggest peeling the skin before hand. Bring some water to a boil,  add the tomatoes and let it sit in a closed pan for 5 min or so. Remove, peel the skin and use.
2. I used a 3 liter pressure cooker. Add 1 tbsp oil ( or even 2 tbsp if you like). I would recommend Sesame oil for a traditional taste.
3. Layer the tomatoes on top. If you want to use garlic/onion/or both, mix it along with tomatoes and proceed.
4. Add the dry spices - chili powder, salt, turmeric, fenugreek and asafoetida next on top of the tomatoes. Note:  Please DO NOT add the spices first since it will burn. It should not touch the bottom of the pan.
5. Cook them at med-high flame for 20-25 minutes for 30+ whistles.  Forget the whistles, just go with the time. Also make sure you are around to check your pressure cooker when you are first making this recipe just to know if it's working properly. If the first whistle doesnt come within 2 minutes, check your cooker to see if the steam is not escaping the sides/ or if your safety value is not working. Since we are going with time for this recipe, making sure it's working optimally is essential to prevent burning.
6. Switch off and open cooker after the pressure settles.
7. Check to see if your thokku is in a perfect consistency of your choice.
8. Depending on the variety/quality of your tomatoes, it might be more watery or thicker than this recipe picture. Mine was almost perfect.
9. Since I needed it a little bit thicker, I placed the cooker again on high heat You can also at this point do a taste test and add more seasoning if needed.
10. for another 5 minutes (or so) until the desired consistency. If your tomatoes were already too thick when done, I would suggest reducing the cooking time next time around. This is why its imperative to hang around the area in order to make sure nothing is burning :)
11. While that's happening, heat up the remaining oil and once hot, add the mustard seeds.
12. When it pops, add it to the prepared thokku.
13. Mix well until blended.
14. Bring it to room temperature and store in a glass bottle. It keeps well for weeks in the fridge (mine is on its 2nd week and going great!)
Enjoy as a side to Idlis, Dosas, Parathas or Rice based dishes. 
Easy Thakkali Thokku Recipe | South Indian Tomato Pickle Recipe | One Pot One Shot Recipes

Ideal Accompaniments

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Thalippu Dosai (Tadka Dosa) By DK on Apr 2, 2018

Recipe Reference

Adapted from Original OPOS® recipe

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By Anjali on Mar 30, 2020

Hi, for half the quantity, should i reduce the cooking time to half? I cannot get more tomatoes during the lockdown. Thankyou

Yes, try with half the time. More importantly use your sense of smell. Switch it off the minute you get the burning smell. Mostly at this point it wont be burned. This is crucial cos every tomato is different with respect to water content and the cooking time would depend on that. Just stay close by once you cross say 10 minutes. --DK

By Arthi on Nov 8, 2019

Hi. I have only a 2l magic pot. Can I do in it. Will anything change

A magic pot is perfect. No, you can use 2L as well --DK

By Anita on Oct 21, 2018

Planning to make it tomorrow. If I need to add jaggery, do I need to add it along with the powdered spices (before closing the cooker)? Thank you

Yes, right on top. But then given the less qty you can also add it after opening the PC and mixing until it dissolves. --DK

By Sandhya on Mar 26, 2017

Hi DK - I have a non-whistling US pressure cooker. Will it be the same timings for OPS cooking in this cooker? Also, I put the weight after the steam starts coming and usually count minutes after that. That means additional minutes of cooking happening before the weight is placed. So I am confused as to how to estimate cooking time for OPOS recipes. Thank you in advance for any suggestions.

I wish I could be of help with this. But every OPOS recipe has been tested out till date only in an Indian style pressure cooker - so if you try, it would have to be at your own trial and error basis. I think adding the weight after initial steam doesnt really matter if you ask me personally since your whistle will come right away. But the issue might rise if you do not place the weight immediately once the steam comes out strong since that time is also counted. Since almost all recipes take less than 10 minutes, using the weight right at the beginning should not be of that big an issue for reducing any confusion. --DK

By kalyani on Jan 19, 2017

omg ! I just made a HUGE batch of tomato thokku & it called for slaving on the stove for almost an hour. This is a deliciously easy way of making it (I tried several other OPOS recipes with moderate success :p)

That one hour of slaving for thokku seems of such a waste of so many years of my life now ;). Some recipes, I think can do without such long cooking! --DK

By Karpagam vimalraj on Dec 5, 2016

I tried this recipe for first time. It came out really well. My hubby liked this very much. Thank you.

By Loganayaki on Nov 28, 2016

Absolutely stunning images. Nice recipe. Thanks for sharing...!

By Aishwarya on Nov 10, 2016

Omg!! Tomato thokku is my absolute favorite. I remember my mom cooking it all the time with thepla/poori. I have to try this one now. Thanks for this recipe!

By meera on Sep 11, 2016

If you are using jaggery, then at what stage will you add it? Before pressure cooking along with red chilli powder etc or after, when we place it on the gas for final rounding off cooking? Thanks!

At the 4th step itself. I have added it before pressure cooking. --DK