“Eat all you can” orange eating contest and save the peel for the thokku!

After a long time, I have a guest post again today – from my aunt Malathi Mohan. She reminded me of an old family favourite – the orange peel thokku but the oranges themselves reminded me of another story!
My uncle Bala kakka’s two sons – Ashwin and Jayant – were prolific consumers of fruit when little kids. And of all the fruits they loved, oranges probably ranked at the top of the list! Oranges in Hyderabad were pretty cheap those days with a basket of several dozen going for as little as a few rupees! Despite that, these two scrawny kids were quite capable of breaking the family budget with their consumption…
I remember once visiting them when they were about six and four years old. My uncle had just come home from work tired and asked the kids to fetch him a couple of oranges from the basket of four dozen or so he’d bought that morning. Being too small to have learnt any subterfuge, straight comes the answer, “But those got over looong ago Daddy!”
“What do you mean ‘loong ago’, they were bought only this morning!”
“Loong ago in the afternooon” pipes in the littler fella, sticking his finger through the last one and holding it up proudly, ” I’m Vishnu and this is my Chakra”!! – they’ve been hard at it from the morning, popping them in one after the other! But who can blame them – those were the sweet-as-sugarcane-juice Kamala oranges or Nagpur oranges – and no one can eat just one, right? Least of all a pair of very small kids!
Here’s the thokku from my aunt – thank you, Pinni!
A hot, sweet, sour favourite of many members of my family – slightly bitter too due to the bitterness of the peel. You can compare it to our Ugadi Pachadi which combines all tastes and we are told it resembles life which is a mixture of all good and bad experiences that we will have to face! It can be compared to the bitter marmalade of the British but not to the sickly sweet Kissan marmalade.
This thokku looks attractive with it’s beautiful orange colour and goes well with rice, chapathi, idli, dosa, dibba rotti and bread. To me, it’s a comfort food as my mother made it for me and also because we could conserve the peel after eating the fruit.
The best oranges to use are the loose – skinned ones. They were called  ‘Kamala oranges’. I wonder who Kamala was?? Better still, universally known as Nagpur oranges. Choose the bright orange skinned fruit for best results.
Let’s go ahead with the thokku:
  • Orange peel of 5 fruit ( Wash the fruit before peeling. Remove the fruit and any strings attached), cut roughly into small pieces.
  • Red chilli  8-10 numbers
  • Dhania seeds  1 tbsp
  • Hing powder   ½ tsp
  • Blackgram dhal  2 tbsp
  • Mustard seeds  1 tsp
  • Turmeric pwd  ½ tsp
  • Tamarind  1 big lime size lump
  • Jaggery grated, 3tbsp
  • Salt 1 ½ tsp
  • Gingelly (til or sesame seed 0il  6tbsp
Heat half the oil in a frying pan and fry all the dry ingredients upto turmeric. Remove from fire , cool and grind coarsely
Add the other half of the oil and fry the orange peel lightly along with the tamarind, jaggery and salt. Cool and grind with the ground masala. Taste for salt.
Cool, bottle and store in refrigerator for longer shelf life.
I remember Amma warning us not to throw away the peel  and not to spit the seeds into the peel. Even today, I feel guilty to throw the lovely peels. But how much thokku can you make during the orange season?? Funnily, the peel itself is called thokku or tholu in Telugu!!