Prawn Tokku

Tokku is a jam-like tomato, onion chili paste. This is one of my grandma’s staples. About twice a year she’ll make a large batch of tokku which she stores in the fridge. If she’s after a quick meal, she’ll scoop out a small amount and add a main ingredient. My favourite tokku is dried salted fish (karuvadu) tokku with rice porridge. YUM.

This recipe isn’t really grandma’s own. She pinched it off her best friend (we call her Ammachi). If my grandma is a superb cook, Ammachi is the cook of cooks. They’ve been friends for almost 60 years, imagine that! So granny’s cooking has been heavily influenced by Ammachi, and vice versa.

Grandma is a very strong person mentally and emotionally. She’s my rock, and Ammachi is her rock. They’ve seen each other through so many phases of life, childbirth, raising kids, losing their husbands,

I don’t think they’ve gone a single day without talking to each other, even when granny is here in Melbourne, she’ll ring Ammachi and they’ll giggle on the phone like school girls.

Anyway, back to tokku! I have posted my grandma’s lets-feed-the-whole-neighbourhood version here, and I have also posted my downscale version and the prawn tokku recipes below.

You’ll need:

  • 1 onion – sliced finely
  • 1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon Cheerful Charlie’s Extra hot – Chili in oil
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon roasted pepper and cumin powder
  • 1 tablespoon thick tamarind paste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar or sweetener
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Fresh coriander – chopped finely

Heat oil, fry onions with a pinch of sugar and salt. Fry until extremely soft. Add rest of the ingredients, put the lid on, and slow cook until the paste thickens and darkens in colour. The oil will separate from the mix.
Remove from heat, squeeze lemon over it, add coriander and stir well. Once cool, this can be stored in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Prawn Tokku
You’ll need:

  • 500 grams raw peel prawns (small prawns are great for this, otherwise get regular prawns, sliced through length ways, and then again into small pieces)
  • 1 small red onion – sliced finely
  • 1 small tomato – chopped finely
  • 1 cup of tokku paste (see recipe above)
  • Oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh coriander

Heat oil, add onions with a pinch of salt. Fry until onions are soft. Add tomatoes, fry until soft and thick. Add tokku paste and prawns, put lid on and cook until prawns are done. Remove lid and continue frying until thickens. Garnish with fresh coriander.

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