Pitlai

Another great recipe from the Queen of South Indian cuisine, my MIL. Pitlai. Its kind of a cross between sambar and kootu. So we're talking vegetables stewed in tamarind juice and a freshly ground spice mixture, with a bit of cooked toor dal added at the end. Sounds like sambar right? Pitlai does not have any fenugreek though, and the consistency is thick like kootu. I made it today, and all i can say is it tastes SO good. I am a fan of pitlai now. I'm pretty sure even Bee (who apparently hates sambar) would like this! You can make pitlai with any of the vegetables listed below. I happened to have eggplant, chayote squash, and okra, so that's what went into my pitlai. My MIL says she usually doesn't use okra as it can get mushy (I recommend frying it first), and she won't use vegetables like beans for ex. Also my MIL suggests using 1/2 the amount of tamarind juice for any vegetable other than eggplant.

UPDATE #1:
Shankar just came home now and said the pitlai was good, BUT the classic combination for pitlai is more kuzhambu! Apparently one does not mix with rice and eat as I have described below, but has as a side dish to more kuzhambu with rice. And also, pitlai is supposed to be one vegetable only! I made it with three. But it was still good in my opinion, and Shankar said it tasted very good. The ultimate is supposedly eggplant pitlai with okra more kuzhambu. So, tomorrow I will make okra more kuzhambu and let's see how this combo tastes. Will post more pictures of that! Stay tuned....


Pitlai
2 cups of 3/4" cubed vegetables (green tomato, katharikai- eggplant, paharkai - bittergourd, pushnikai - white chinese melon, chou chou - chayote squash, parangikai - orange pumpkin), 1 tsp turmeric, 1 cup tamarind juice extracted from a 1" ball of tamarind, 1 tsp mustard seeds, a few curry leaves, 1/4 cup of cooked toor daal.

Spice Mixture
1 tbsp coriander seeds, 1 tbsp channa daal, a pinch of asafetida, 4 dried red chillies, 1 tbsp dry grated coconut.

1. Roast the spice mixture and then grind it into a powder.
2. If you are using okra or bittergourd fry it in some oil on high heat.
3. Reduce the heat, add the other vegetables and barely cover with water. Boil for a few minutes with the turmeric.
4. Add the tamarind juice, and the spice mixture and continue boiling. Then bring to a simmer.
5. Add salt.
6. Add the toor daal and mix.
7. Splutter the mustard seeds in oil and add a few more curry leaves. Add to the mixture.

Serve with rice, appalam, and a tomato pachidi. Classically this is served with more kuzhambu.

Tomato Pachidi
1/2 tomato diced, a few fenugreek seeds, a pinch of asafetida, 1 tsp of mustard seeds, 1/2 small green chili minced, chopped cilantro for garnish, 1 cup yogurt

1. Splutter the mustard seeds, add the green chillies, and then add the fenugreek and asafetida.
3. Add this to the tomato and yogurt with salt and mix.
4. Garnish with cilantro.

Verdict: My husband is coming home from school for an hour break just to eat this!

UPDATE #2:
I made vendakkai - okra more kuzhambu last night, and here is a picture of my lunchbox today. It was so tasty, I can see why it is the classic combination. But to be honest, I still liked the version with rice and thayir pachadi too!

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh! Pitlai! Yum Yum!!

Dad

Anonymous said...

If pitlai can pull Shankar home for lunch , the brinjal and chow chow in the frig are calling out to the Toronto pitlai fans ! guess what our menu is tomorrow- you got your dad ohhing and yumming already! He is eyeing the bag of vadaams too.

Asha said...

Looks delicious K! If it's from MIL,it must taste great!!Thanks forposting it:))

trupti said...

That looks good..no wonder your hubby came home for lunch....!

Priya Bhaskaran said...

hearing this recipe name for the first time-I have read something called "Pitlai podi" are they same?..tried your bisebelabath came out so good...will post sometime in my blog...

Prema Sundar said...

Typical south Indian recipe... I have read abt pitlais but never made one. I have noted it down.. u can send it for RCI event. thanks for sharing this recipe.

Nupur said...

It looks totally mouth-watering! Thanks for sharing another classic recipe.

Anonymous said...

Your mom copied your recipe and made pitlai with a little less tamarind to suite me. With Morekuzhambu and Vadaams on the side it was a great lunch today!

Thanks,
Dad

Manjula said...

This is so great..something near to sambar, but not exactly same. I guess I had this in a tamilian friends home. This one is sure for tamarind lovers.

Dr. Soumya Bhat said...

Nice combo of vegetables its unique .Really nice will surely try this its nice,Thanks for sharing this...

bee said...

kanchana, you are right. this dish looks yummy. will try it one of these days.

Bharathy. said...

drrrrrrrr droooooooooling..I am FLAT..what a blog!!! CUTE couple!!!love your photos in top left :) cinema stars mathiri irukkinge...:)...recipes and pics..heavenly..gonna add you in my blog straigh away...:)

VINI said...

FANTASTIC blog!!! I'am new to blogging...so I have a long way to go. Awesome work..keep them coming!

Roopa said...

looks yummy! sounds interesting bitterguard with dhall never tried before!

marriedtoadesi.com said...

Hey Priya,

I think Pitlai Podi would just refer to the spice mixture used for the Pitlai. But you could use it in a curry too it would taste good!

Thanks for your comments everyone else!
Kanch

Hema said...

Love pitlai. Pahakka pitalai happens to be my favourite! Lovely.

mommyof2 said...

Cool Blog! I loved your wedding pictures and all the dishes are soo yumm. I have already decided which ones to try;-)

And you guys make really cute couples:-) God Bless you guys.

Paddukoti said...

pitlai!! something very new to me and loved the way u explained it!!
definitely try !!

mommyof2 said...

Why the color is different? the second pic is more like chicken tikka.. In the updated pic, classic combo is the one on the right,right?

Kalai said...

Just came across this recipe on your blog and I had to try making the pitlai the other day. IT WAS PHENOMENAL!!!!! Thanks so much for your authentic recipes. Growing up in the US, I can empathize with a lot of your scenarios! :)

Smita said...

lol! I made pitla the other day inadvertantly to use but some leftover daal and I didn't even know it had a name:)

அரசன் said...

Great recipe... have you tried pitlai with beet? try it out.. kick the spice a couple notches. you'll like the beet pitlai.

Anonymous said...

Typically Mohr is spelled like this, i think. Otherwise its confusing to folk who dont know the cuisine.

your photos are great!

Anonymous said...

Hi Kanchana,found you here, now I don't need to go look for Meenakshi ammal anymore..., just added your blog to my fav. You are unbelievable i say. keep going..., add all the recipes for vikram's future use. Love to both of you,
Padma Raghavan

Shobha Krishnan said...

Wow Your pitlai looks great!!! I have bookmarked your site - looking forward to more such recipes