Saturday 17 May 2014

Pitlai (பிட்லை)

Pitlai is a traditional recipe and is a popular one too! It is a typical Brahmin preparation and goes very well with curd rice. 

Ingredients: (Serves four)

Tamarind – the size of a large gooseberry (காட்டு நெல்லிக்காய்)
Toor dhal – ¾ of a tumbler or 150 ml measure
Cut vegetables –1½ tumblers or 300ml measure *
Jaggery – half teaspoon
Salt – to taste
Cooking oil – 1 tablespoon
Mustard seeds, split urad dhal – ½ teaspoon each
Curry leaves – a few

To be ground into a fine paste:
Red chillies – 2 to 3 (adjust to taste)
Bengal gram – 1 teaspoon
Dhania seeds – 2 teaspoons
Coconut – grated, 1 tablespoon
Asafoetida – a pinch

*Traditionally brinjal or small bitter gourd (மெது பாவக்காய்) is used for making pitlai. Cut brinjal into medium sized pieces. Small bitter gourd may be cut into quarters. 

Pavakkai/ Bitter gourd Pitlai (பாவக்காய் பிட்லை)
Method: Wash toor dhal well, add 400 ml of water, and pressure cook for 6-7 minutes (6-7 whistles). Soak tamarind in warm water. Heat little oil in a kadai and fry red chillies, Bengal gram and dhania seeds till the gram turns golden brown. Add asafoetida to the kadai and switch off the stove. Once cool, grind fried ingredients with coconut into a smooth paste and keep aside. 

Squeeze tamarind and extract the juice. Cook the vegetables in tamarind juice with required salt. Allow the tamarind juice to boil well. Mix the dhal using an ordinary hand blender or a ladle till it is soft and uniform in consistency. Add the dhal and salt to the boiling kuzhambu and mix well. Bring it to boil and then reduce the flame. Dilute the ground paste in little water and slowly add to the boiling kuzhambu, while stirring continuously. Let it boil for 1-2 minutes and then switch off the fire. 

Heat remaining oil in a tadka pan (spice pan/ தாளிக்கிற கரண்டி), add mustard seeds, when they start to sputter add split urad dhal and fry till the dhal turns golder brown. Add the seasoning to pitali and garnish with curry leaves. Serve hot with rice, curry/kootu/ appalam.

Note: Amount of tamarind required to make pitali is lesser when compared to sambar recipe.  

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