Saturday, February 18, 2006

Chow-chow thogayal (chutney)

Item 1: 1/4 of a chow-chow (bangalore kathirikkai)


Item 2: about 1/2 a coconut


Item 3 = Chow-chow chutney or thogayal

This is probably the only sort of equation I can understand, having been maths-impaired since birth. It's the stuff of my nightmares, mathematics, and it has NO place on my blog or indeed in my life.

So I'll talk about chow-chow thogayal instead.

My mother usually makes thogayal with the addition of a vegetable - cabbage, white pumpkin, chow-chow, etc. When I was younger, I used to think that thogayal made by adding vegetables was inferior to that made with coconut alone - as if the purity of the coconut had been compromised (I guess as a kid I was pompous in thought if not speech!).

Ingredients for thogayal (clockwise, starting top right): Coconut, dried red chillies, urad dal, tamarind piece and curry leaves

I dont feel that way any more, which is why this recipe is being aired. Also, adding a bit of vegetable is a great idea if you're a bit short of coconut - and it doesnt compromise on taste one whit. Of course, since the vegetable is only partly cooked, the thogayal only stays good for a couple of days.

Putting coconut chutneys in the fridge definitely DOES compromise the taste, because they acquire a sort of staleness that's unattractive on the tongue. It's not that the chutneys go bad, but they lose some vital essence... I like to imagine that it's their soul...

Enough of the belaboured whimsy, and on with the recipe!

Recipe for:
Chow-chow thogayal (chutney)


1/2 cup chow-chow, sliced
1/2 cup coconut, grated or slivered
5-6 dried red chillies (or to taste)
1 tsp tamarind paste or 1/4-lime sized piece of tamarind
10 curry leaves
1/2 tsp asafoetida powder
2 tsp urad dal
2 tsp oil
Salt to taste
Warm water as required (approx 1/4 cup)


1. Heat 1 tsp oil in a small pan and stir-fry the sliced chow-chow for 2-3 minutes, till the slices start to soften. Remove from the pan and set aside.

2. Heat the second tsp of oil in the same pan and fry the red chillies, urad dal and curry leaves till the dal turns golden. Remove the chillies and set aside.

3. Grind the fried chillies, coconut, tamarind, asafoetida powder and chow-chow together, using only as much water as required to make thick but finely ground mixture.

4. When all the ingredients are ground up properly, add the rest of the tempering (the curry leaves and urad dal) along with salt to taste and grind for another 20 seconds, so that the dal and curry leaves are shredded but not completely amalgamated.

5. Serve as a side dish with idli, dosa, chapaties, etc, use it as a filling for sandwiches, or eat it mixed with ghee and steamed rice with any dry vegetable dish.


Alanna said...

Hi Shammi,

From the pictures, I think what you're calling chow-chow is marketed in the US as chayote squash. If so, this looks like a great use! I've cooked it a couple of times, it's got more structure as zucchini, a sweeter taste, and all the same low-cal, low-carb, quick-cook qualities. And I've noticed it in 'mainstream' groceries just in the last month or so too.

shammi said...

Alanna - yup, chow-chow IS chayote squash... and I too like it way better than zucchini for all the reasons you mentioned :)

willowtree said...

That looks wonderful. In my father's country chow-chow is called Christophine, and im my mother's country it is called Cho-cho, and in many countries it is chayote. So interesting.

Kitchenmate said...

Chow-chow thogayal is really cool receipe. We used to make kootu, pachadi not thogayal infact. going to try that very soon and will let you know how it turned out in my kitchen.
BTW: am following ur blog for sometime and really,.. really inspired me, to start mine. Keep up your cooking :)

shammi said...

Hi Willowtree - it IS interesting to know that vegetables common to me are seen as "exotic" in someone else's view :) And by that same token, to learn about vegetables from other countries! :)

Kitchenmate: Thank you for your kind words :) I have a recipe for chow-chow kootu too... somewhere in my recipe archives :)