Sampangi Pitlai

We are working through the different types of Poritha Kuzhambu, where the spice paste is fried in ghee before being ground. There are Poritha Kuzhambus, Poritha Koottu and Pitlai, Gothsu and Masiyal. They can be with and without tamarind, stuffed full of vegetables or just one or two.

This is our second Pitlai, Sampangi, which traditionally has drumsticks as part of the vegetable mix, with 3 or 4 others. The spice mix used in this recipe differs from the first Pitlai recipe – it does not include coriander or channa dal (Bengal Gram), but does include peppercorns. The chillies are ground in the paste rather than left whole in the tadka. I have been explaining to some people recently how subtle differences from recipe to recipe results in a different dish, and the taste difference is remarkable IF we allow our tastebuds the time to register. This isn’t so common in our society, we eat so fast, but in India these differences are important. The other key difference in this recipe is the variety of vegetables, as many as 4 can be used in this dish, rather than 1 or 2.

Are you looking for similar recipes? You must definitely try this Pitlai, and Amaranth Greens Soup/Pitlai, as well as Poritha Kootu, Poritha Kootu with Beans, Poritha Kootu with Simple Spices, Onion Kothsu with Tamarind and Dal Tadka.

Are you looking for all of our other Pitlai recipes? They are here. And browse other Poritha Kuzhambu and Poritha Kootu dishes. Explore all of our Kuzhambu recipes and all of our Sambar dishes. You might like to browse our Indian recipes and our Indian Essentials. Or simple take some time to check out our Early Autumn collection.

Continue reading “Sampangi Pitlai”

Pitlai | Toor Dal with Vegetables

Pitlai is a South Indian recipe using some basic vegetables and cooked in a coconut-based gravy with specific spices that have been fried in ghee. It sits close to Poritha Kuzhambu and Poritha Kootu, but the spice mix varies from these.

South India adores its rice, and so the different cuisines of the South include a huge range of gravy-like dishes that are ladled over warm rice to be mixed and enjoyed. It makes sense, right? Rasam, Sambar, Kuzhambu, Kootu etc are the most common. Pitlai sits in that group too, and some will say it is a type of Sambar and others will say it is a type of Kuzhambu. Meenakshi Ammal sits her Pitlai recipes within her Poritha Kuzhambu and Poritha Kootu section – those with a fried spice mix/ paste. The dish varies slightly from any of the above – in consistency, spices used, and the vegetables that are added – bitter gourd and eggplant are definite favourites. Like the other Poritha dishes, it is the ground paste of spices, the coconut, and the predominance of lentils, that serve to thicken the dish. A tiny amount of rice flour can help if needed.

Pitlai includes coriander and Bengal Gram in its coconut-based spice paste, and this is the difference from the Poritha Kootu and Poritha Kuzhambu pastes. As I say about South Indian dishes – change out one spice and the dish has a different name, a different way of eating, a different time of day to eat it and different vegetables to include in it. 🙂

Pitlai is made all over South India and each region will have its own interpretation of the dish. This is a recipe from the Tamil Brahmin Cuisine.

Are you looking for similar recipes? Try Brinjal Asadu, Poritha Kootu with Sambar Powder, Simple Poritha Kuzhambu, Sampangi Pitlai, Poritha Kuzhambu with Chilli and Cumin,  and Poritha Kuzhambu with Amaranth Leaves.

Are you looking for other Kuzhambu? Try Green Chilli Kuzhambu, Masala Kuzhambu with Gram Flour Vadai, and Tomato Kuzhambu.

Why not have a look at all our Kuzhambu dishes, and all Kootu. All of the Sambar dishes are here. Browse the Meenakshi Ammal recipes. Or take some time to explore our easy Early Autumn dishes.

Continue reading “Pitlai | Toor Dal with Vegetables”

Indian Essentials: What is the difference between Sambar, Kuzhambu, Kootu and Related Dishes?

Differences between Indian dishes can be very subtle compared to other cuisines. Learn to differentiate between these dishes.

Is a sambar a kuzhambu, or a kuzhambu a sambar? Where does a Kootu fit in? And then there is Masiyal and Pitlai. These are the big questions that keep one awake at night.

Traditional Indian cuisine is an ancient one, eons old, with superb flavour and texture combinations, exquisitely evident in the soupy dishes of sambar and kuzhambu. Infinite varieties of both dishes exist, emerging from very subtle cooking differences (eg whether the vegetables are added before the tamarind or after), on the time of the meal, on the region, the village, the time of year, the festival, the vegetable used, or the spices used, whether coconut is added, and so on.

In general you can say that sambar has a base of red gram dal (toor dal), and kuzhambu does not use lentils as a base. A kuzhambu may use a small amount of toor dal ground in a spice paste, but not generally as a key ingredient.

All kuzhambus and sambars contain fenugreek but it is considered the defining spice for a kuzhambu, because it pairs so well with the sour taste of tamarind.

Continue reading “Indian Essentials: What is the difference between Sambar, Kuzhambu, Kootu and Related Dishes?”

Amaranth Soup with Tamarind | Poritha Kuzhambu with Tamarind and Amaranth Leaves

Amaranth – a wonderful, underused vegetable.

Amaranth Greens are quite common in India, but are an unusual ingredient here and only available in specialist Asian markets, unless you grow your own. We have rows and rows of them throughout the garden because they look so beautiful.

S. Meenakshi Ammal in Vol 1 of her book Cook and See, has a Poritha Kuzhambu that incorporates Amaranth Greens, perfect for when these are in season.

If you are interested, you can read about the differences between the sibling dishes of sambar and kuzhambu. See  Sambar vs Kuzhambu for more information. This recipe is a Poritha Kuzhambu, close to the Pitlay variety with its special spice mix and toor dal. Ammal does not call it Pitlay and it does have some differences, but it uses a Pitlay spice mix.

Are you looking for similar recipes? Try Amaranth Leaves Coconut Kootu, Green Amaranth Soup, Amaranth Leaves Masiyal, Simple Poritha Kuzhambu, Poritha Kuzhambu with Chilli and CuminPitlai, and  Sampangi Pitlai.

Are you looking for other Kuzhambu recipes? Try Fenugreek Kuzhambu, Pulse Ball Moar Kuzhambu, and Grated Coconut Masala Kuzhambu.

You can browse the other kuzhambu recipes here. Check our Amaranth Leaf Recipes. Browse our other Indian recipes. Or simply be inspired by our Mid Spring recipes.

Continue reading “Amaranth Soup with Tamarind | Poritha Kuzhambu with Tamarind and Amaranth Leaves”