One of the nice things about many Indian villages, towns and some cities is that vendors bring fresh produce to your doorstep. I live in a large city so that’s not something that happens often. Most Saturdays, a vegetable seller brings fresh leafy vegetables to my door. She usually has a variety of amaranth, spinach, fenugreek leaves, coriander, mint, etc. She also brings other vegetables. I almost always buy greens from her, sometimes in quantities larger than I need. I have devised various methods of cutting, cooking and freezing so that nothing goes waste. Today, I’m sharing my recipe for making Kothamalli Thokku – Fresh Coriander Chutney or Pickle.
Last week she brought some very fresh and healthy looking coriander leaves. I bought 2 huge bunches and used up some in fresh chutneys. The rest went into making a Kothamalli Thokku – Fresh Coriander Chutney or Pickle. This Chutney or Pickle is popular in Tamil Nadu. You may notice that I refer to Thokku as Chutney or Pickle. That is because the fresh coriander leaves are cooked as a paste and this has the texture of chutney. It also has oil and spices that are similar to a South Indian style pickle.
Fresh coriander is perhaps not used as much in South Indian cooking as it is in the North. However, this Thokku is one way in which it is preserved very well. It can be served with rice and yogurt, with dosas (crisp lentil and rice crepes) or with flatbreads like parathas.
To make the Kothamalli Thokku – Fresh Coriander Chutney or Pickle, start with prepping the fresh coriander. Snip away the roots and the mature part of the coriander stems. Wash the coriander leaves and tender stems. Pat dry and snip or cut into smaller pieces.
This Chutney or Pickle is meant to be slightly spicy and tangy with a hint of sweet. I like to add toasted split black gram lentils to it. Though not traditional, I find it adds a certain nuttiness.
Some basic facts about Coriander :
Coriander (Kothamalli/ Dhania), also known as Cilantro is an annual herb. Its leaves, stems and seeds are edible. Coriander leaves are widely used in Asian, Mexican and some Portuguese cooking.
Coriander, in traditional medicine, is thought to have anxiety relieving properties. The seeds are boiled with cumin in water and this liquid is used as a diuretic.
Kothamalli Podi/ Fresh Coriander Chutney Powder:
Kothamalli Podi is a dry chutney powder made with fresh coriander leaves. It is normally eaten mixed with hot rice and bit of sesame seed oil or ghee. It can also be used in the same way as Milagaipodi.
This Chutney Powder is made with almost the same ingredients.
For the amount of coriander leaves given in the Kothamalli Thokku – Fresh Coriander Chutney or Pickle recipe, you will need about 1/4 cup each of split Bengal lentils (chana dal dal) and split black lentils (urad dal). You will also need a couple of teaspoons of oil, about 8 to 10 dried red chillies, 1/4 tsp asafoetida powder and salt to taste
Heat the oil in a wok and toast both lentils till golden brown, over medium heat. A minute before they’re close to browning, add the red chillies and the asafoetida powder. Stir a few times. Then remove them to a bowl.
In the same wok, put the chopped coriander leaves and stems and stir until they wilt and start to look a little dry. Do not let them brown. Once they have cooled, blend everything together with a little salt into a coarse powder. Bottle and refrigerate
This post has been updated with text and photographs recently.