Rhubarb Thokku

I follow a lot of food bloggers and chefs on Twitter. As soon as it was spring, everyone was getting excited about Rhubarb. Rhubarb is extremely seasonal, available only in the few weeks of spring. (At least here, in New York). It tastes sharply tart, like a cross between gooseberries and lemons. It needs a lot of sugar to compensate for it’s natural tartness (in pies, tarts, muffins etc) but I wanted to make a pickle with it.

In South India, pickles are usually made with spiced oil (salt, red chili powder, fenugreek, mustard is the usual combo), but we also make a cooked, quick pickle called thokku. Made on the stove top (technically not ‘pickled’ at all), it is meant to be used quickly. We usually use tomatoes, raw mangoes, gooseberries to make thokku. So I tried to make Rhubarb thokku and it was amazing.  We usually eat thokku with rice, or idlis or dosais. But it works well as a spread for sandwiches, wraps, with rotis. Really, sky is the limit.

Rhubard Thokku


Rhubarb – 3 stalks (diced, as shown in the photo above)
Gingelly oil (or vegetable oil) – 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Chili powder – 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
Fenugreek seeds – 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves – 2-3
Asafetida – a pinch
Salt – to taste


1. Heat a thick bottomed pan, and add the oil. Once the oil is hot, add mustard seeds. Once the mustand splutters, add fenugreek seeds, asafetida, curry leaves.
2. 30 seconds, then add the turmeric and chili powder to the oil. Don’t let the spices burn, add the rhubard immediately.
3. Saute for a couple of minutes, and add salt.
4. Continue cooking on medium heat, till the rhubabarb breaks down and starts to feel paste like, stirring occasionally.
5. Continue cooking, till all the moisture from the pan evaporates, and the oil starts to separate from the thokku. Taste now, and adjust salt, and spice.
6. Remove from the pan, and store in a tight lidded jar. (Keeps for upto a week in the refrigerator).


1. This method of making thokku can be used for diced tomatoes, grated raw mangoes, gooseberries, fresh cranberries. (Cranberry thokku tastes incredible).
2. A tablespoon of thokkku mixed in a cup of yogurt will make a quick raita.
3. 1/4 cup of thokku can be used to flavor pressure-cooked dal. Tadka, mix the thokku with the dal, and you have the perfect accompaniment to rice or rotis.