Vegetarian Concoctions

May 1, 2007

Celery thokku

Filed under: Celery, Chutneys and Thughayals, JFI, Tamilnadu — Hema @ 9:43 am

My Mother-in-law is one of the most enthusiastic cooks I have seen…not to mention one of the best! She manages to cook up a ‘Kalyana virundu’ (Marriage feast) everyday. The minimum she prepares is a sambhar, a rasam, a kootu, two curries, a pachaddi (raita), a salad and a pickle…all within a matter of two hours. The list would have featured a sweet as well if not for the diabetes that runs in my husband’s family. Sweet preparations are limited to special days now. Not only is the food prepared, the kitchen is left spic and span within that time-frame. Her policy is to wash every dish as soon as it finds its way into the sink. ‘This way you will not feel the extra work of cleaning the dishes at the end’, she says. She was never inclined to use the dishwasher during her stay with us. She very rightly never trusted it to work as well as the hands.

She used to eagerly wait for our flea market trips during the weekend. That was her ultimate idea of entertainment…..picking up vegetables for the week. The India-like climatic conditions in Florida yields all the vegetables that we find back in India. MIL was surprised to find veggies that were not available even in Delhi where they live. Not only was I introduced to her old-time traditional favourite recipes, but was also taught new ways of making everyday veggies. Celery thokku is one of her innovations too. She first made them with some left-over celery I had used for making my usual soup. Now-a-days, I make soup from the left-over celery that I buy for making thokku. This tastes so good mixed with rice and a dash of til oil or just with curd rice too. Here’s my contribution to JFI-Greens at Indira’s.


What you need:

Celery – about 5 stalks

Green chillies – 4-5 nos

Hing – 1/4 tsp

Methi – 1 tsp

Cilantro – 1/2 cup chopped

Ginger – 1/2 inch cube

Mustard: 1 tsp

Turmeric – 1/2 tsp

Salt to taste

Gingerly oil (til oil) – 1/4 cup

Chop up the celery and saute it with cilantro in about 1-2 tbsp of til oil for 4-5 minutes. Set aside. Next heat up another tbsp of oil and add methi, chopped chillies, hing and ginger. Let this cook for 5 minutes. Put this and the celery in the blender and grind to a fine paste. Heat up about 6-7 tbsp of the oil. Add mustard seeds and once they splutter, add the paste. Add salt and turmeric and keep cooking till the oil leaves the sides of the pan. This step takes a while. The thokku should have a thick paste like consistancy. Add more oil if required. Serve with hot rice and appalam or vadam.



  1. Can I have your MIL stay with us for sometime? Kalyana virindhu…Wow! I know – my mom and MIL are pretty good at cooking lots of dishes within a short amount of time and of course, my grandma…Not to miss, the thuvayal/thogayal that she always made with most meals – love ’em!

    Celery thokku – something totally new and interesting! Will try her recipe for sure!


    Comment by Praba — May 1, 2007 @ 9:49 am

  2. what a great way to use celery. thanks for this recipe.

    Comment by bee — May 1, 2007 @ 11:02 am

  3. You seem to have had a wonderful time, and so did your MIL ! I am really amazed at how our parents and grandparents continue to have the same amount of or more passion for cooking even after soo many years in the kitchen. I have cooking turns here with two other roomies, and sometimes get bored of making the everyday dishes yet again !

    I am surely going to try this thokku.

    Comment by Priya — May 1, 2007 @ 12:57 pm

  4. Hi Suma,
    I never knew you could use celery for such a wonderful dish also.thanks for sharing.I have a big bunch of celery in my frige gonna try this for sure.

    Comment by soumya — May 1, 2007 @ 2:08 pm

  5. Totaly a new recipe ..Very different recipe .Thks for sharing .

    Comment by Deepa — May 1, 2007 @ 2:24 pm

  6. Hema,I want your MIL!!Please send her over!!Mine does not lift a cup,literally!!!

    Anyway,Celery Thokku looks delicious,very creative,I will definitely try this.Give us more MIL’s recipe,would ya?:))

    Glad she is enjoying the FL market.

    Comment by Asha — May 1, 2007 @ 2:35 pm

  7. Oh…how I wish I could manage so many dishes within the time frame you mentioned and leaving the kitchen spic and span with the same time frame too !!!! Pls do pass on my regards to her πŸ™‚ and your thokku prep is completely new to me πŸ™‚


    Comment by Mishmash! — May 1, 2007 @ 2:42 pm

  8. Thats one brilliant lady!!!!!! Lovely way to eat celery…… till now I have been having them only in soups!!!! πŸ™‚

    Comment by Coffee — May 1, 2007 @ 9:14 pm

  9. Suma, i just finished a pack of celery, will try this soon never knew and haven’t try making anything else except for soups and salads

    Comment by Roopa — May 1, 2007 @ 9:25 pm

  10. I am impressed with your MIL.Lucky girl πŸ™‚
    Nice preparation from celery,share more such recipes πŸ™‚

    Comment by archana — May 1, 2007 @ 11:33 pm

  11. Nice post Hema, Enjoyed Asha’s comment also πŸ™‚ Viji

    Comment by viji — May 2, 2007 @ 12:25 am

  12. hey Hema, Celery thokku is a real new recipe. your MIL is sure very innovative. nice entry.

    Comment by Sharmi — May 2, 2007 @ 1:00 am

  13. Hi Hema,
    There are sooo many dishes to learn from elders.Your thokku preparation is very authentic.Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Menu Today — May 2, 2007 @ 7:48 am

  14. never used celery in an Indian dish…for that matter hardly ever used celery before. This one is a good twist, say Thanks to her

    So when is she visiting again πŸ™‚

    Comment by sandeepa — May 2, 2007 @ 11:01 am

  15. @Praba, Priya
    Our moms and grandmoms did have a lot of patience and energy compared to our generation. My grandma is 80 and can still cook for 50 people with as much enthu as she did 50-60 years back.

    @Bee Soumya, Deepa, Coffee, Roopa, MT, Sharmi, Viji, Archana
    I will let my MIL know that she is in demand in the blog world. Thanks and hope you try it sometime.

    :)Yup, I am lucky. I hardly ever entered the kitched when she was around. You can have her, but just for a day.

    @Sandeepa, Suma
    Celery has such a wonderful flavor. I am sure it will taste good in Sambhar etc too. That’s my next experiment.

    Comment by Hema — May 3, 2007 @ 10:07 am

  16. Your mother in law is so sweet… very nice recipe

    Comment by Sushma — May 3, 2007 @ 10:35 pm

  17. Wow Hema, this is such an innovative idea and a great way to get celery in our diet… I’ll try it this weekend πŸ™‚

    Comment by mandira — May 8, 2007 @ 12:15 pm

  18. @Sushma, Mandira


    Comment by Hema — May 10, 2007 @ 11:55 am

  19. What a wonderful use of celery. I always wanted some indian recipe to eat this vegetable. Thanks for sharing

    Comment by Meera — November 23, 2007 @ 11:52 pm

  20. Hema

    This is a wonderful recipe. I buy celery exclusively to make this recipe and I have also passed on this recipe to my friends. We all love it.

    Thanks to you and your MIL. I am including celery in my health food list! Thanks to you.


    Comment by Ramya — June 6, 2008 @ 7:14 pm

  21. Hi there! I read this recipe and I had to try it! Finally, got celery y’day and made thokku according to your instructions. It was just super! Many thanks to you and your mom-in-law.

    Comment by Anuradha — August 27, 2008 @ 9:39 am

  22. Hi Hema! Thank you for the recipe! I tried it today and it was absolutely delicious!

    Comment by Paakapriya — January 12, 2009 @ 9:48 pm

  23. Hi there,
    This thokku is an absolute delight, tried it and was just great.Thank you.

    Comment by Shubha — April 8, 2009 @ 12:07 pm

  24. Wow… I tried it last night and it turned out great! This is an awesome recipe & lovely way to add this vegetable in our diet! Thanks to you and your MIL Hema.

    Comment by Sugi — June 24, 2009 @ 8:26 am

  25. hi hema,
    can you please tell me the tamil name for celery. and all the best to you to become like your mother in law in cooking

    Comment by rajiniganth — August 13, 2009 @ 6:23 am

  26. Wow, iam going to try this soon, as i got celery from the market, i was thinking what to do with that.. now found an answer.. Thanks..

    Comment by Sneha — October 13, 2009 @ 8:05 pm

  27. Hi, this is a new idea to make celery thokku. i have some celery in my fridge which i’m going to use for making this thokku. thanks a lot for this recipe. your MIL definitely should be a great cook to come up with something like this…..

    Comment by Nithya — August 11, 2010 @ 1:26 pm

  28. I have made this thokku twice, and my husband loved it. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe…

    Comment by kum — August 25, 2010 @ 12:03 am

  29. hi!
    can i get some tips from her? iam surprised to know how fast she is!how does she do so many dishes in 2 hrs?..i spend whole day in the kitchen :(.waiting for reply

    Comment by alina — January 27, 2011 @ 11:16 am

  30. Well aweosme food to make and very simple on the ingredients.This is a good one to make and im trying it ri8 away.

    Comment by summer recipes — May 12, 2011 @ 11:53 pm

  31. Could you please explain how you got the color as in the picture? I tried this and it came out green only considering the ingredients ( coriander, celery & g. chillies). Did you fry it for a longer amount of time?

    Comment by Anita Sam — August 19, 2011 @ 2:34 pm

  32. Can I have your MIL stay with me sometime?

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