Strictly speaking, this should be called a type of Kadhi because it is made of chickpea flour, but it is actually a different beast and closer to daal which is why I have called it Instant Daal here. Pithle is a Maharashtrian invention and like almost any common dish in India, it is found in many forms. For example Ravan Pithla, named after the infamous opponent of Lord Ram, has as much chilli as chickpea flour. Not sure who can eat such a hot dish but in the interests of public safety, I am giving you here a recipe for “normal” Pithle like my mother used to make. It is very easy and quick but very satisfying with plain rice.
Cooking Time: 20 min
You will need:
- 200g of chickpea flour (you may use some or all of this)
- 2 tbs cooking oil (groundnut, rapeseed, olive or sunflower are fine)
- Small bunch of coriander leaves, chopped
- 1-2 hot green chillies, slit lengthways
- 1 tsp mustard seed (larger ones are better, but smaller “Rai” will do)
- 1 tsp cumin seed
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/4-1/2 tsp asafoetida powder (use less if using a stronger variety such as SSPAsafoetida or if you find the smell overpowering)
- Salt to taste (I prefer unrefined sea salt)
- One litre of water
Heat the oil in a wok until it is very hot – you can test the heat by dropping a couple of seeds of mustards in – if they crackle and pop, the oil is sufficiently hot. Now add the mustard seeds and let these crackle and pop. Add the cumin seeds next and let these crackle too. Keeping the heat on high, add the green chillies and stir for 3-4 seconds to let them release their heat into the oil. This needs to infuse the entire dish so be careful to let the oil cover them and sizzle them. This is why using a wok or vessel with a curved base is a good idea because the oil will not spread out too much and will allow proper frying of the ingredients. While this is happening, keep the water ready, by the side of the cooker, to pour into this mixture. Next, add the asafoetida and turn the heat down to low, stir and add the turmeric. It is extremely important to not let the turmeric burn so as soon as you have added it, stir and add the water. Turn the heat up again and let the water boil. Add a teaspoon of salt (this can be adjusted later to your taste). When the water starts boiling, start sprinkling the chickpea flour on the surface of the boiling water. This really needs to be done while stirring so add the flour with one hand and stir with the other. It is slightly messy and I would not advise using a spoon to add the flour as you want to be able to sprinkle it in, one handful at a time. As you do this you will notice the pithle starting to thicken. There will be some lumps, but these are meant to be there to give the dish some texture. Stop adding the flour when the pithle reaches the consistency of a thick soup. Add the chopped coriander and let it boil for a couple of minutes. If it has become too thick, add a little bit of water and if it is not thick enough, add more flour. Serve with plain rice and yoghurt.