During our college days, we used to organise quite a few educational trips, on which projects were later submitted. One such trip was an exciting travel to the city of ‘Tanjore’ ortherwise known as ‘Thanjavur’. This ancient city of rich art and culture offers many festivals, which are celebrated with fervour and great enthusiasm. The food and art festivals are well-known. Our trip was planned in such a way that we would spend three days there, to enjoy the fun and frolic of the festivals, held during the monsoon season. The traditional cuisine of this city offers several lip smacking vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.
This was a wonderful opportunity for us to experience the traditional cuisines of Thanjavur. On our arrival at our place of stay, we were served with an exotic drink of ‘Vasantha Neer’, which is made from the water of coconut. The drink has an essence of mint which quenches one’s thirst and enhances appetite. The indigenous dishes of the local inhabitants of Thanjavur, include exotic South Indian recipes that are easy to cook and delicious to relish.
The ‘Thanjavur’ cuisine, which was then influenced by the ancient Maratha cuisine, has now spread its art of cooking all across South-India. The dish ‘poricha koottu’ which emerged from the dish ‘Sappak pitla’(a Maharashtra dish), was my favourite, among the various mouth-watering dishes comprising of – Thavala Adai, rasam, authentic uttappam, delicacies of fishes that were prepared in coconut milk, poriyal , vathakuzhambu(a similar dish like the goddu pitla) and so on. The sweet dishes like Surul Poli, Pal Payasam etc., go on to give a touch of homeliness and allows one to reflect on the rich socio-cultural lifestyle of the natives.
With an interest in art and culture and not to mention my cravings to indulge in good food, I worked on the project of the ancient city ‘Tanjore’. I now share with you, the recipe of the dish ‘Sappak pitla’ which I till today savour and relish. The speciality of this dish is that it imparts a wonderful aroma during its preparation and goes on to impart a heavenly taste to your taste buds.
- 1-1/2 cup moong dal(yellow split bean/lentil)
- Grated coconut 2 tbsp
- 1 tbsp chana dal (Bengal gram)
- 1 tbsp urad dal (split black gram)
- Red chillies 2
- Green chillies 2
- Cumin seeds 1 tsp
- Black pepper 3-4 corns(can avoid if too much of spice not required)
- Ginger- small piece
- Ridge gourd 2 medium sized (cucumber or snake gourd work well too)
- Oil 2 tbsp
- Boil moong dal (yellow split lentil) along with diced ridge gourd. You don’t have to do this in a pressure cooker given that moong dal cooks quite fast on the stove.
- Heat little oil and roast the coconut, jeera (cumin seeds), green chillies, red chillies, pepper, chana dal and urad dal.
- Grind the dry ingredients separately.
- Now grind to a paste- the coconut and green chillies (with a little water).
- Mix together the dry ground ingredients and the coconut-chillies paste.
- Add this mixture to the dal and ridge gourd and cook on low flame till it comes to a boil.(this takes only two minutes-do not over cook coconut)
- Garnish with cilantro/chopped coriander leaves (if required)
- Serve hot, as per tradition, with rice or serve as a side dish for rotis.
Preparation Time: 35 minutes