Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Nellikkai Thokku - Gooseberry Preserve (Savory)

Prep time: 0 min                                Cooking time: 20 min                                  Makes: 1 small cup

Gooseberries (nellikkai/ amla) are rich in Vitamin C and anti-oxidants. It is said that the fruit provides a host of health benefits including reduction of bad cholesterol, insulin production, anti-ageing, preventing constipation, etc. And from what I've heard, as a bonus, it makes your hair and skin glow :-)

As a child (why, even now), I loved the tingling sweet taste when one sipped water after chewing a bit of it... 
A single nellikkai would occupy me for quite a while as I nibbled off little bits of it to follow with water... Only the small variety was available in the South mostly and that too in certain seasons. Whereas, it is said that the bigger variety is more nutritious. Well, I don't know much about this really but I do know that both taste equally awesome! There was a tiny grove of gooseberry trees within the premises of my government-quarters in my previous posting and in the peak season, it yielded baskets of juicy, shiny fruit :-) All the residents got 2-3 kilos each and I was at my wit's end as to what to do with it.. Well, how much raw amla or pickle can one have? 

Upon the other residents' suggestion, I had bulk of it made into murabba from the Horticulture lab nearby. I had not had amla ka murabba until then and I must say that at the very first taste, I have become a fan of it. I was sure to gulp down one or two EVERY day till it lasted :-) I checked out the recipe on the internet but haven't tried it yet.

This time when we spotted the sparkling fruit on our nearby departmental store's shelves, we bought a handful.. My mother-in-law has made a delicious thokku with it and I'm enjoying a spoonful everyday :) It is delicious when mixed with rice (makes a great lunchbox item) and also as an accompaniment to any traditional rice dish. Here's the simple-yet-delicious recipe:


Gooseberries - 6 (of the large variety) - or you could use 10-12 of the small variety
Green chillies - 4 medium
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Turmeric powder- a pinch
Asafoetida - a pinch
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Refined oil- 3 tbsp


Heat 2 cups of water in a steamer (we used the idli vessel and plates). Wash the berries in running water and place them in the steamer. Let it cook in medium flame for 10 minutes. Once the berries cool down, de-seed and chop them into small pieces. Grind into a coarse paste along with green chillies and salt, using just 2 tsp of water. Heat the oil in a thick-walled vessel and add mustard seeds to splutter. Now add the curry leaves and asafoetida. After they pop, add the ground paste and turmeric powder and mix well. Let cook in low flame for 10 minutes, stirring the mixture once in a while. Put off the flame when oil begins to separate. You can cool and store this thokku in the fridge for upto a week. Try this and tell me how you liked it!


  1. looks tempting :) will try this out... I love the smaller variety more :)
    Moxie Craftie

    1. Thanks Berina.. Do try and tell us how it turned out!

  2. yummy..I too like the small variety.. mom prepares pickle with the large variety ..:-)

    1. i too like the pickles Radhika.. But murabba has taken my fav spot :)

  3. Hi Esvee I loved your recipe..we made it just yesterday but without steaming part ,used them raw..we get bigger ones here almost size of a lemon..! ! Amla is main ingredient of chavanprash also, I too love murrabba..

    1. Thanks Pooja! I guess using it raw must have given a stronger flavor. Must try that too next time...

  4. super I love nallikayi tokku...sakkath recipe!will try soon

  5. Berina, Radhika, Pooja and Smita... I told my M-in-L of your response.. She became Sssoo happy :-) Thank you ladies, you've made her day!!