Thakkali Vengayam Thokku | Tomato-Onion Dry Curry – A true comfort food

Thakkali Vengayam Thokku is one of the fondest dish from my childhood. Every family known to me enjoys this dish with chapati/dosa/idly. I come from a family of avid travelers. My dad’s younger brother works for Central Security Force and he gets posted in a new state/town every three years. He lived in Kota, Bhuvaneshwar, Vishakapatnam, Mumbai and Cochin. During summer, we as a family of 20 or so will travel to places in and around the state he is posted. Our trip to Rajasthan & Jaipur; Bhuvaheshwar & Konark; Varanasi; Vishakapatnam & Calcutta are so fresh in my mind. Apart from remembering the fun times with cousins and family, I remember the food the elders would prepare days before the travel. My grandmother would prepare food that would not perish in the summer heat. A day before the travel, women at home would chop, clean and get busy to cook curries, rice and roti for days travel. We generally don’t buy stuffs that’s sold in the train. So, there will be lemon rice ad potato chips for one of the meal;chapatti/roti with tomato-onion dry curry for another; cooling curd/yogurt rice made with tons of milk, cucumbers, carrots and cilantro served with homemade mango pickle for another meal. Such simple meals but they taste absolutely divine during travel. There will be lots of homemade snacks like murukku, seedai,Parle-G biscuits, omapodi. We would buy fruits in the train stations along the way.

Today I asked my mother-in-law to prepare delicious sweet and spicy tomato-onion dry curry to go with chapatti for dinner. The trick to get the color right is using the right utensil to cook. I recently invested on a cast iron pan which is equivalent to our good old iron pan our mom uses back home in India. I bought mine for $18.00 from Walmart. It’s referred as “irumbhu chatti” in Tamil. It gets seasoned over a long time use. I have asked my grandmother to save hers for me. I would like to inherent the one she used as it will be superbly seasoned and I can make crispy, dark colored potatoes or okra or this tomato-onion curry. Infact the shrimp masala or dry chicken pepper masala made in cast iron pan looks so beautiful as the hot iron roasts the meat so well.

As I served a scoop of this delicious curry with chapatti, I fondly missed my cousins. As I chew, I wish I could take on trips like that to create beautiful memories for my son.


Source: Mother-in-law

Serves: 4


  • 3 onions – finely chopped
  • 6 medium sized tomato – finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 2 tablespoon coriander powder
  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup green peas (frozen) – thawed
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 tablespoon olive oil


  • Pressure cooker, gasket, whistle
  • Cast iron pan / saucepan (Irumbhu Chatti)


  1. In a cooking pan or pressure cooker, dump the onions, tomato, turmeric, chili and coriander powder, salt and water. Pressure cook for 2 whistles. Remove and let it cool.
  2. If not using a pressure cooker, you can over a Dutch Oven or Saucepan and cook covered for 30-45 minutes on low flame.
  3. Heat oil in a cast-iron pan with oil. Once hot, pour the onion-tomato mixture and peas. Cook for 30-45 minutes until all the water dries and the mixture gets a beautiful roasted texture and color. It needs to form a gorgeous black base.

Serve hot with chapatti/roti and cucumber.

Additional Notes:

  1. Since it uses little oil and was cooked in a pressure cooker, I eat this curry with chapatti/roti during my weightloss journey.
  2. This dish is also OK to eat during gestational diabetes. Just skip the green peas during the cooking.
  3. Also ideal for those who are diabetic and pre-diabetic.

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  1. Oh I love love trips like the ones you talk a bout…I remember trips to the north where I would wait for the train to hit Nagpur to buy juicy santras!!!
    Nice pan!


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