Pitla Bhakri an Thecha

During my long travels away from home there were moments of home sickness which could not be pacified by any number of phone or video calls. The moments of high pressure work, unhealthy weather conditions, deserted streets and lack of good food were simply unbearable.
To new comers, I do not work for a coal or gold mining company, but the stress of IT life is no less. 
Cutting back the long story short, when you are under duress food can be most comforting and mood lifting option. 
Even now, when I miss the childhood comfort, I make this simple maharashtrian affair. 

Ofcourse, making bhakri is still a task for me, so I normally have pitla with steamed rice, ghee, mango pickle and roasted papad. Heaven!

Pitla is pronounced just the way it is spelt out as Pit-la no emphasis on making la sound as laa..drop me a note to figure out in detail. This is a staple maharashtrian dish found in all parts of the state. The popular cousin Zunka is literally the dried out version of this curry. It is known to be the most cost and health effective food. It was once popularized by the state government as the food for the poor. One could eat 1 serving of Zunka and 1 Bhakri for 1 Rupee flat at various outlets started by the same name – Zunka Bhakar Kendra. Well, like most projects, the outlets eventually focused on making, missal pavs, vada pavs and some other Chinese dishes and thus drowned the project.
I am giving you the more affluent version of the dish but you can make it very well without all the optional ingredients listed below.

Ingredients (for 4 people)
1 ½ cup Chickpea flour
3 ½ cups of water
1 large onion finely chopped
1 tspn ginger-garlic paste (optional)
2 tspn red chilli powder/ 2 green chillies chopped finely
½ tspn turmeric
1 tspn crushed roasted peanuts (optional)
Salt to taste
Oil to cook (2 tbsp)
11) In a large wok/ kadhai, heat some oil, add the mustard seeds and let it crackle. Add the asafetida to it.
22) Add the chopped onions, ginger garlic paste, and sauté until the onions are cooked and oil separates from them.
33) Add the turmeric , red chilli powder, crushed peanuts and sauté again.
44) Add the water to the mixture along with salt. Taste if you like to check for salt. The water should taste salty as the flour will absorb salt later.
55) Let the water boil until it is bubbling.
66) Now reduce the flame and start sprinkling the chickpea flour quickly stirring with the other hand to mix it well. Do not worry too much about the lumps
77) Now cover the lid and let it simmer for 10-15 min.
  8) You can start stirring it constantly after this stage until the oil comes to the surface , about 10 more min. If there are too many lumps, or the texture is very thick then add ½ cup of plain water and cover the pan.The lumps will be dissolved.
99 ) Garnish with coriander/ grated coconut
Serve with bhakri (Jowar/ Bajri/ Rice roti) and thecha/ kharda

After step 9, if you keep sauteing until the pitla has become dry and starts forming a crispy skin at the base, you will yield zunka. You need to scrape the skin, and continue sauteing until about 10 more min to get yummy zunka.

Bajra Bhakri
1 cup Bajra flour
salt to taste
hot/warm water
1) In a large basin/ bowl, take the flour and salt.
2) Add the warm water little at a time to bring together all the flour till it forms a soft pliable dough.
3) On a flat surface, take a small ball of the dough and using the surface the palm start tapping the dough starting at the centre applying pressure towards the edges.
4) The surface of the dough should start growing, keep using the dry flour liberally,
5) Now lightly lift the bhakri and put it on a hot griddle. On the surface facing you apply some water.
6) Flip on the other side after 2 min.
7) Using a tong place the bhakri on open flame till it puffs up.

Thecha/ Kharda
2-3 green chillies
4-5 garlic cloves
salt to taste
1) Pound all 3 in a mortar.

Serve with your choice of papads, I served with kurdya.


Vardhini said…
Yup comfort food makes things lighter and rasam does it for me :)

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Kavi said…
pitla bhakri is what we order almost everyday in office! :D Yummy!!
Do go through the rules & link it to my Ongoing event: Healthy Lunch Challenge if possible!
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sushma said…
This dish is new to me..looks good.
I love maharastrian food. This is a very authentic and yummy combo...I make zunka regularly must try out pitla..

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Priya Suresh said…
Healthy and authentic dishes, inviting..
vidhas said…
new and intresting recipe, authentic too. lovely clicks.
Chitra said…
Sounds interesting. look nice !!
bookmarked..though I have had thecha n Zunka..but never made..love the platter...
Cool Lassi(e) said…
That dish indeed looks very comforting!
Padmajha said…
I love pitla with piping hot rice. That platter is an absolute comfort food :)
Srivalli said…
That's a very inviting plate P!..love all traditional dishes..
Gayathri Kumar said…
Beautiful and delicious combination...
veena said…
looks very inviting. Bookmarked this!!!
saffronstreaks said…
very inviting and tempting platter, lovely prep and absolute comfort food
Suma Gandlur said…
Love the whole platter since I am partial to pitla. It is made in Andhra households too and called bombai chutney there.
rajani said…
Haven't had this before, but can imagine finding comfort in this dish :)

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