Thokkus are like magic potions and believe me, they can make the most tasteless and unappetizing of meals interesting.
I want to share with you how these thokkus worked its magic on me, during one of the hardest of sojourns I had undertaken in 2009. I had the good fortune of undertaking a pilgrimage to Mount Kailash and as most Indians would know this is probably one of the most physically exhausting sojourns one can undertake. The pilgrims hit high altitudes and with it comes lose of appetite and physical/mental weakness. The first high altitude point is the mountain town of Saga where I completely succumbed to nausea at an altitude of 15000 ft above sea level. I had to stay hydrated and eat at least small meals to make sure I withstand the rest of the journey. I just could not stand the food that was being served and even at the slightest smell became sick. Thats when one of the co-pilgrims offered me one of the thokkus she had brought along. With the very smell I regained my appetite and with just one meal I was all set for the next leg of the arduous journey.
Before I learnt flash cooking (OPOS techniques), we use to constantly buy thokku from some of the most famous shops in Chennai. As a woman with a full time job and a tween at home, I had absolutely no time or interest to stand next to the stove to saute and stir these thokkus. I am sure it is the case with majority woman folk, which these shop take full advantage off. The store bought ones are ladden with oil and cost a bomb ! Traditionally, to make a decent thokku it takes atleast 45 -60 mins of cooking time with constant supervision. This flash cooked version takes exactly 4 minutes of cooking time !
What is Flash Cooking?
It is basically vegetables/Greens at highest (optimal) heat for the shortest possible time with no/minimal water. With this technique what I discovered is that the ingredients retain their full flavor as there is no dilution through water. Also, the color retention is magical ! You have to see it to believe it !
For the green thokku, you can use either go for one green herb variety like curry leaves, cilantro (corriander leaves), mint leaves by themseleves or get creative, to mix and match . Here I have used a mix of greens herbs consisting of curry leaf, cilantro and mint leaves. I usually wash them well and make sure it is weed free.