Authentic cravings…

by Sunita on April 9, 2008

I am not a ’strictly by the book’, cook, at all. I absolutely love playing around with my ingredients.. what if I’ve got my hands burnt a couple of times ! I would also rather make use what’s available and whatever catches my fancy than run that extra mile to get particular things. And as both me and Dinesh are not fussy eaters, that works quite well…as for the kids, I usually follow the principle that children learn to aquire the tastes that they grow up with…just as long as there is variety in it. So, more often than not , I don’t even know what to call my dishes. The kids have got used to the fact too. They no longer ask me the names of the dishes; rather, they set about the naming ceremony themselves ! Well, after all , what’s in a name anyway…as long as the food is edible, nutritious and enjoyed by those to whom it is offered, it’s fine…what do you say?

Sometimes, people ask me if a particular dish that I’ve prepared is authentically Assamese. Well, I do not know…what I do know is that it is definitely authentically Sunita :-) But, I must admit, the craving for that typically authentic (?) dish sometimes gets the better of my experimentations. Many a times, the desire to get a whiff of that familiar aroma is all to much to let it pass by unnoticed.

It was to satiate such a craving the other day, that led me to make our lunch of ‘khisiri with bilahir tok’..khichdi accompanied with a tomatoey condiment which is sweet and sour (something like life?), and a little hot…this bilahir tok (‘bilahi’-'tomato’; ‘tok’- ’sour’), makes it’s appearance on almost all auspicious occasions…be it a wedding or other religious ceremonies.

Well, I always looked forward to those spoonfuls which would be served alongside puri-sabjis or khisiris…the latter is what we had it with…a khisiri , consisting of rice, red split lentils, butternut squash, potatoes(apart from the rice and lentilsthe vegetables are changeable), which had a very simple flavour,seasoned with salt and spiced with a little turmeric, chopped ginger and garlic. A plate of this, along with the stronger taste of the tok, on the side, is really something to be relished…and relish, we did.

The tok is cooked in mustard oil, which really enhances it’s flavour. Without more ado, this is how it is made, and yes, no experiments here :-)

What’s needed-

5-6 ripe tomatoes, sliced
1 and 1/2 tblsp mustard oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tsp paas puran { a spice mix of equal amounts of fenugreek seeds(methi), nigella seeds (kalonji), mustard seeds (rai), fennel seeds (saunf) and cumin seeds (jeera)}
1 bay leaf
1 whole red dried chilli
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
a small piece of jaggery
salt to taste

How to-

  1. Heat the oil in a pan.
  2. Add the paas puran, whole red chilli and bay leaf.
  3. When the seeds start to pop, add the onion and tomatoes. Season with salt and add the turmeric.
  4. Mix well, cover and cook (stirring occasionally) till the tomatoes are mushy.
  5. Add the jaggery and stir till it is dissolved and the tok thickens… just so that it is neither too watery or too thick.
  6. Give a nice stir and remove from heat.
  7. Serve as a condiment with rice, khisiris or even with rotis and other flatbreads.

This is a very simple and quick to prepare recipe, but something which definitely perks up a meal. The jaggery can be replaced with sugar , although I do prefer the former. The sweetness of the recipe differs from household to household. I prefer it a bit sweet…wheras, Dinesh prefers it to be very less sweet. So please feel free to adjust it accordingly.

We had ours with khisiri for a meal…and it all comes back…the weddings, the pujas, and of course, home :-)

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sia April 9, 2008 at 2:21 pm

so this one is authentic oriya dish??? well, i actually dont care how authentic it is as long as it is packed with flavours and this one just took my breath away. what a gorgeous dish suni… simply gorgeous.


2 AnuZi April 9, 2008 at 2:39 pm

Aww Sunita I agree. What’s in a name…a rose by any other blah blah blah. I think our generation of cooks especially don’t believe in naming our dishes because after all the taste is what counts. Simple recipe dear! Looks yum


3 sunita April 9, 2008 at 3:30 pm

Sia, Sia, dear, tch!tch! not ‘Oriya’, but ‘Assamese’ :-D D…and yes, it is a very simple , yummy condiment :-)


4 sunita April 9, 2008 at 3:31 pm

Anu,yes, what’s in a name…this is indeed a very simple recipe…ready in minutes :-)


5 Sukanya Ramkumar April 9, 2008 at 5:15 pm

Hi Sunita…..
This looks so YUM!…. Mouthwatering recipe… Nice picture…Love it…


6 Sia April 9, 2008 at 5:30 pm

dang!!! oops… i made a boo boo ;)


7 Rachel April 9, 2008 at 5:55 pm

As long as it is visually appealing, which yours is very much and as long as it tastes good…I’m for it!


8 sunita April 9, 2008 at 6:54 pm

Thanks…and it tastes good too, if I may say so :-)


9 sunita April 9, 2008 at 6:56 pm

Sia,not to worry…forgiven and forgotten :-D D


10 sunita April 9, 2008 at 6:57 pm

rachel, that’s my motto too :-)


11 Mike of Mike's Table April 9, 2008 at 7:44 pm

That looks tasty and the close-up shot is great


12 Richa April 9, 2008 at 9:35 pm

playing with *ing, yup, that’s how recipes r created ;) looks so good!


13 Carmen April 9, 2008 at 9:48 pm



14 sunita April 9, 2008 at 10:05 pm

mike,thanks… we love it’s taste.


15 sunita April 9, 2008 at 10:07 pm

richa,thanks…and yes, I do love my share of playing around with the ing.:-)


16 Kalai April 9, 2008 at 11:09 pm

Gorgeous and simple recipe! Awesome! :)


17 Namratha April 10, 2008 at 1:30 am

Mmmm looks lipsmacking good…authentically Sunita indeed :)


18 Priya April 10, 2008 at 2:27 am

Hey Sunita, loved the write-up. I have never been truthful to a recipe :) )
My mom often paired kichadi with tomato chutney, and I am now craving that combo. So this weekend its surely going to be kichadi and your prune cake for breakfast ofcourse :) I am always on the look out for eggless recipes.


19 Saswati April 10, 2008 at 4:35 am

Sunita you made me feel so homesick….even we oriyas have something similar which is more sweet and is served as a side dish in marriages,puja ets…infact all we ppl from the eastern part of India have lots of common recipes… wonder Sia got confused:)


20 farida April 10, 2008 at 4:46 am

Sunita, this dish looks delicious. your pics make me grab a fork and eat the food out of computer:)


21 Jayashree April 10, 2008 at 5:14 am

Looks delicious….you also make it sound real easy to make.


22 sunita April 10, 2008 at 8:40 am

thanks…it is indeed a very simple recipe…and ready in minutes :-)

There was indeed quite a lot of lipsmacking at our table :-D


23 sunita April 10, 2008 at 8:42 am

Thanks….and I am loving your menu :-)

You’re right…probably every region has it’s own similarities with their own unique touch here and there :-)


24 sunita April 10, 2008 at 8:44 am

Thanks…wish you could really do that :-)

Thanks…and it is indeed very easy to make :-)


25 Pearlsofeast April 10, 2008 at 9:35 am

Hi sunita,Wow tomato khatta is absolutely delicious.We also make the same dish with sugar.I really relish these condiments and they make meals perfect to enjoy.I have also posted the same recipe in my blog with slight twist of adding dates.


26 SMN April 10, 2008 at 9:47 am

Hey Sunita that dish luks so rich and i can feel the way it will melt in our mouth with tangy sweet and masala.. yummy nice phtotos too


27 Miri April 10, 2008 at 5:18 pm

Looks delicious and I just finished having some spoons of the typical Bengali tomato chutney which my friend sent across!!


28 Vanamala April 10, 2008 at 5:49 pm

Lovely …


29 Sandeepa April 10, 2008 at 6:52 pm

The bilahir tok looks great, can we add sugar instead of jaggery ?


30 sunita April 10, 2008 at 7:12 pm

Thanks…I’m sure your version must taste good too :-)

Thanks :-)


31 sunita April 10, 2008 at 7:18 pm

You lucky girl! Enjoy! :-)

Thanks :-)


32 sunita April 10, 2008 at 7:42 pm

Thanks…and yes, as I have mentioned, you can very well substitute the jaggery with sugar..adjust the sweetness to your taste :-)


33 musical April 11, 2008 at 1:47 am

He he, i know of the “authentic cravings” :) . Recently i realized that its been ages since made the good-old aloo-gajar sabzi!! Very simple and yet something that you associate with home and Mom’s cooking. The tok looks GORGEOUS! And its such a quick recipe to put together.

I too play with the ingredients and like creating new combinations, but like you, every once in a while, that craving for the simple and the earthy food crops up :) .


34 DK April 11, 2008 at 2:54 am

this luks absolute yum


35 sunita April 11, 2008 at 10:29 am

musical, yes, there is no denying the fact that one does crave for those familiar flavours :-)


36 Susan April 15, 2008 at 4:25 pm

My kind of condiment, hot and spicy with just a touch of sweet!


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