5 Ingredients or Fewer


March 31, 2019
5 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

Pithla is a stew made of chickpea flour, onions, and green chile peppers, with a semi-solid liquid consistency that goes beautifully well with white rice as well as with Indian bread. —Annada Rathi

What You'll Need
  • 3/4 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 cup diced red onions, 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 pieces Thai chile peppers or any fresh green hot pepper like Serrano, diced into round thin slices
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds, black or yellow
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 piece dry red chile pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch asafetida powder (optional)
  1. Pour oil into a thick bottomed saute pan. Turn the heat to medium. After letting the oil heat for 4 to 5 minutes, add mustard and cumin seeds. Once these seeds hit the hot oil, they will start popping.
  2. Once the popping stops, add onions and asafetida powder and turn the heat to low. Now let the onions cook till they acquire a brown edge. This takes about 13 to 14 minutes. Don't hurry this step as it is the key to bringing out a subtle sweetness in the final dish.
  3. Add cilantro, turmeric powder and chile pepper pieces. Sauté for a minute and add 2 cups water. Follow up with salt and red chile powder and let the mixture boil.
  4. Once the mixture comes to a rolling boil, start adding chickpea flour. Add the flour with one hand and use a whisk to stir the flour into the water with the other hand. Try to smush the clumps as much as possible. But you don't have to decimate each and every clump. Some clumps are a part of the rustic appeal of this dish.
  5. Add rest of the chopped cilantro and cover it the pan with lid. The chickpea flour should lose its raw taste and the pithla should come to a boil. Generally the consistency is like that of chilli, not thick like a smoothy, nor runny like broth or clear soup. Ultimately the consistency is to your preference.
  6. Serve hot with white rice and ghee. Don't forget the side of bhurrka.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Annada Rathi
    Annada Rathi
  • Kim Arnold
    Kim Arnold
  • Jazzball
  • Jitu
To some people's frustration, I like to talk about food before cooking, while cooking, while eating and of course after eating.

8 Reviews

Kim A. June 22, 2019
Outstanding flavor! My family has added this to our growing list of comfort foods. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful recipe. We agree that you must have the bhurrka to make this dish sing! Love, love, love it!
Annada R. June 23, 2019
Kim Arnold, you and your family made my day by professing your love for pithla and bhurrka! Thank you for trying it and posting your comment about it.
Jazzball June 20, 2019
Wonder how it would taste with whole chickpeas?
Annada R. June 21, 2019
Hi Jazzball,

Whole chickpeas would need to cooked before adding, though it would taste fine.
Jitu June 16, 2019
My mum used to make this for us when she needed to make a quick meal.Was on of my favorite things.We called it PITLU .Thanks for this recipe. I have been looking for this recipe for a long time.
Thanks so much
Annada R. June 18, 2019
Hi Jitu, Pithla, Pitlu is exactly meant for moms to whip up their kids' favorite dishes in a time crunch! I hope you made it and enjoyed it. Thank you for your words of appreciation.
Ethyl June 15, 2019
I had oral surgery this week and was SO TIRED of "cream of whatever" soup and let me tell you, this was a breath of fresh air. I did puree the onion and spices after sauteeing because of aforementioned oral issues and it was still delish. Thanks!
Annada R. June 18, 2019
Oh Ethyl! That you made and loved pithla despite your oral issue makes me very happy. I wish you a speedy recovery!