Tomato Thokku (Tomato Pickle)

De Arbol (Capsicum Annuum) means tree like in Spanish. The plant has thick, upright, woody stems and the chile itself is narrow, curved and bright red in color. Believed to be closely related to the pequin, the De Arbol is thin fleshed, with tannic, smoky, grassy flavor and searing heat. This chile has a heat range of 7.5 on the heat scale of 1-10. De Arbol Chiles are comparable to a Cayenne Pepper. Scoville heat units 15,000 to 30,000.

Suggested Use:
De Arbol is a hot chile and a staple in Southwest kitchens. Add some heat to your next salsa or Mexican dish. Be adventurous and add them to your next stew or chili along with the other spices Add some heat to your next salsa or Mexican dish.

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6-8 Dried red chiles
1 Tablespoon sized piece of tamarind

Spices for Dry Powder :
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
1 Teaspoon fenugreek/methi seeds
1 Teaspoon coriander seeds
1 Tablespoon black gram/urad dal

8 Medium Tomatoes
¼ Cup sesame/gingelly/til oil
1 Teaspoon mustard seeds
Large pinch asafoetida/hing
¼ Teaspoon turmeric/haldi
1 sprig curry leaves


Part pickle, part chutney, this tangy concoction stays well in a bottle or jar for 2-3 days without refrigeration, so it’s perfect to pack up for a long road trip. Use it to enliven a routine bread-butter sandwich, add some zip to your bagel that’s smeared with humdrum cream cheese or as a side with puris or paranthas. It can even be mixed into plain steamed rice (along with a glob of ghee) for an impromptu tomato-rice. As with any pickle or chutney, the spices are key to the lip-smacking taste, and here it is fenugreek powder that delivers complex undertones to the sweet and sour notes of the tomato.

Soak the red chiles and tamarind in half a cup or less of hot water. Use less water to reduce the total cooking time. Roast the dals/spices together on a hot tava/skillet until lightly browned. Cool and grind them to a powder.

Once the soaked chiles and tamarind are soft, remove the chiles, and extract the tamarind pulp. Purée the tomatoes and chiles in a blender. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed and high-sided saucepan. Add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. Sprinkle in the asafoetida, then add curry leaves. After a few seconds, add the turmeric powder and then pour in the tomato-chile mixture and the tamarind. Cook for a while, stirring occasionally, keeping the pan partially covered if it is splattering too much. Once it reduces to a thick paste, add the powdered spices. Cook, stirring often for 2-3 minutes. Cool and store in a clean glass jar. Refrigerate and use over a week.