I had a holiday voucher lying in my closet for close to a year now since its purchase. We knew about it and had discussed several times about putting it to use before the voucher expires. Finally when the last month of its validity had arrived, and we still were unprepared for a holiday, we decided to leverage the voucher for weekend getaway, a holiday in Mahabaleshwar-Panchgani.
Inhabitants of Pune-Mumbai have some typical holiday destinations that does not ask for your skills at planning. You may need to pick up some clothes, put them in a bag and off you go, away from hustles of the city into the peace of these destinations.
We have been to Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar several times in past, and have been around the town on all the visits. I was more inclined to spending some time in relaxation and tasting local food. One of the food items that I never afford to miss is Pithla-Bhakri that is served in an eatery at the base of Pratapghad fort.
Pratapghad is one of the iconic and significant forts of erstwhile Maratha Empire. Located 15km away from Mahabaleshwar, it is one of the famous tourist spots and is often flocked by tourists visiting from various parts of countries. The fort is well maintained and ascend to top of the fort has stairs all along. Halfway along the track, there are couple of eateries that serve authentic Maharashtrian food like Pithala, Bhakri, Mirchi Thecha, Chapati, Vaangyacha Bharit and numerous other food items. Every time I visit the fort I make it a point to visit the food point and treat myself with some mouthwatering Pithala and Bhakri. There is something about the recipes followed by those ladies who operate the joint that takes me back to these joints every time I am in Mahabaleshwar.
Whenever, I come back from Mahabaleshwar visit I like to make Pithala in my kitchen and serve it with Bhakri for our weekend lunch. The primary ingredient of Pithala like Kadhi is gram flour also known as besan, but unlike Kadhi, pithala is thicker in texture as it gets eaten, traditionally with Bhakri. A spicy masala paste also known as Vaatan, and which is the soul of the recipe, is grounded into a fine thick paste, and it is made up of cilantro, chilies, roasted peanuts, garlic and grated coconuts. Final consistency of pithala can be adjusted to suit your taste palate, but traditionally it is thicker so water content should be adjusted accordingly.
Follow this authentic recipe for making a delectable Pithala for your weekend lunch and remember to serve hot bhakri and/or steamed rice with it. You can share your feedback in the comment section below.
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- 250 grams Gram flour(besan)
- 3 medium sized onions cut into lengths
- ½ cup fresh coriander(cilantro)
- 5-6 green chilies.You may choose to alter the quantity of chilies
- ¼ th cup fresh grated coconut
- 8-10 curry leaves
- 1 and ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 12-15 cloves of garlic
- 2 tbsp roasted peanuts
- 2 tbsp cumin seeds
- Cooking Oil
- We will prepare Vaatan (Masala Paste).Put coriander leaves, green chilies, Garlic,cumin seeds, roasted peanuts,grated coconut in a grinder jar.
- Grind all ingredients into a fine paste.
- Heat 3 tbsp oil in a pan.Put curry leaves and onions.Fry onions till become brown.
- Meanwhile make a thin batter of gram flour.Put 2-3 cups of water and whisk to form a thin batter.
- Whisk to remove formation of any lumps.Add turmeric powder and whisk.
- Onions turn brown in about 10 mins.Now add Vaatan(Masala).Bhunao the Vaatan (Masala Paste).
- In process of Bhunao, you can use ½ cup water.Add salt to taste and Bhunao.
- Bhunao masala for 5-6 minutes.
- Now add Gram flour batter.Stir the batter as it is added.You can add more water if required.Amount of water added depends upon the desired final consistency which usually is thick.
- Cover and cook the pithla.In 4-5 minutes Pithla gets cooked and attains thicker consistency.
- Pithla is served with Bhakri or steamed rice
Click here to watch recipe video