JFI for August - Chillies (Spicy recipe inside)

Firstly, please accept my apologies for the delay in the announcement. The heavy rains in Bombay have disrupted my phone and internet connection since 10 days now, and I have no idea when it is going to be reinstated. I'm doing this quick post from my parents' house where I am visiting for a few hours today.

JFI or Jihva for Ingredients is Indira's brainchild and each month our avid food blogger community and other food lovers join to celebrate one Indian ingredient.

Since it's raining hippos and elephants here, we have been eating hot and spicy stuff the whole week. Since no Indian kitchen would be complete without chillies in some form or the other, Jihva for August is CHILLIES.

You could spice up your dish with:
Fresh Green Chillies
Fresh Red Chillies
Dried Red Chillies
Red Chilli powder in any form
Chilli flakes
Jalapenos or
Chillies in any other form.

Get innovative and do something spicy. And hey while you are at that, don't forget your gloves!!


Rules for participation:
Prepare a dish with any form of chillies and post it on your blog on August 1, 2007 with a link to this post.
Send me an email at saffrontrail@gmail.com titled 'JFI' with the permalink to your post alongwith a picture of the dish, preferably in 100 x 100 pixel size, by August 2, 2007.
Please also include the name of your blog, recipe name, as well as name and location (if it's ok with you) in the mail.

You may come back to check the round up by August 7.

Here's my first spicy recipe, a TamBram original for Pavakkai Pitla. Nothing like chillies to completely mask the bitterness of the poor ol' bittergourd.

Pavakkai pitla is a sambar variety using bittergourd and peanuts in a fresh ground masala with coconut base. The spices, coconut and tamarind mask the bitterness to a great extent while adding layers of flavour to the dish. The soft cooked peanuts will make this dish endearing to anyone who doesn't like karela. The same can be made with brinjal pieces instead of bittergourd.

Pavakkai Pitla ( Bitter ground in spicy tamarind lentil gravy)
Total time: 45 minutes
Serves 4
Pictures coming up soon!

2 medium bitter gourds
¼ cup fresh groundnuts (peanuts – not the roasted variety)
¾ cup yellow lentils (tur dal)
1/8 cup or one lemon sized ball tamarind soaked in 1 cup water for an hour
1 tsp salt or to taste
For tempering: ½ tsp mustard seeds, sprig of curry leaves and 1 tsp udad dal

Roast on medium flame with ½ tsp oil
3-4 broken dry red chillies
3 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp chana dal
1 small piece (large pinch sized) asafoetida

For spice paste
Place the cooled roasted spices in a small mixer, grind along with ¼ cup coconut pieces using upto ½ cup water.

Preparing bittergourds
Wash and lightly peel the bitter gourds. Top and tail them. Cut into half length wise, scoop out seeds and fibrous material with a small spoon. Cut each half into half lengthwise and then make slices of 1 cm thickness.

Cooking lentils, gourd and peanuts
Place the washed yellow lentils in one container with 2 cups water. Place the sliced gourd and peanuts in another container with ½ cup water. You can place the containers one above the other in the pressure cooker, lentils at the bottom and gourd-peanuts on the top, pressure cook for 3 whistles and then on a low flame for 5 minutes.
Cook soaked yellow lentils by boiling in 3 cups water, until soft – approximately 30 minutes.
Cook gourd slices and peanuts with ½ cup water, until both are soft – approximately 15 minutes. Keep them aside.

Preparing tamarind extract
Squeeze tamarind well in soaked water, to obtain two cups of tamarind extract.

Assembling the pitla
Bring the tamarind extract to a simmer in a deep steel pan. Add the ground spice paste to the simmering tamarind extract along with mashed lentils and bittergourd-peanut mix.
Stir well and bring to a boil.

For tempering – heat 1 tsp cooking oil, add ½ tsp mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add a generous tsp of udad dal. On a low flame, stir till golden, add a sprig of curry leaves and slide the tempering over the pitla. Place a cover on the pitla pan until it is time to serve.

Serve hot with steaming rice and a dry curry along with some vadams or papad.
A perfect match to the pavakkai pitla is the vazhakkai curry, which is a dry curry made with sliced plantains.


Asha said...

YAY!!! I came back from vacation and was confused who was hosting what and then I came to remind you!!;D
Thanks.After T's Spice it up,some more chillies for me.
Hey,I have grown some hot Banana peppers/chillies in my garden.Hope that's okay too since they are chillies as well but yellow in color!

bee said...

good choice, n.

Indira said...

Dear Nandita,

So sorry to hear about the net problems. I can sense how much pressure you must be under without the net. Please do not worry about a thing about JFI. And please organize the event according to your convenience. If you need any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Happy hosting. I love your chilli choice for JFI!

- Indira

Anonymous said...

Not related to your post but I tried the vegetable parathas link from the index and I think the link is broken.
Just thought I'd let you know.


musical said...

Dear Nandita,

Hope that your phone and internet connections are restored soon.....great ingredient btw and yummy recipe too!

take care,

Johnny said...

I love Chilli!!!! see my blog.

Swapna said...

I miss the Mumbai rains:)). Hope things get back to normal for you.
Great choice for JFI!

Priya said...

Thats a hot choice for the JFI event Nandita, couldn't expect anything less from you ;)

Sig said...

Hey I was wondering what happened to you.. Hope the connections are restored soon.... Great choice for JFI..

GIni said...

Couldn't have picked a better one.

Roopa said...

hope your connection is up! i know how bad it is dear. BTW great choice for JFI with the pouring rains and hot and scpiy to add on :)

Cynthia said...

I hope your connections are soon back up. Great choice for this month's event. Can it be any variety of chilie?

Suganya said...

Great Choice Nandita!

Srivalli said...

hi Nandita...good choice...

I was going thr your tambramhim recipes..excellent ones you have...thanks..will be a nice bookmark...


Vanamala Hebbar said...

Dear nandita,

Good choice ..sure will post you some chilli recipe ..


Bharathy said...

In a few words I would say...Excellent choice!!My blog name shouts it all..!!!:)..
Count me in Nanditha..

Indira said...

Hi friends,

Due to heavy rains and disrupted communications in Mumbai, Nandita doesn't have internet access at this time. Hence she requested me to respond to any questions related JFI: Chillies Event.

Hi Asha and Alice: Thanks for your interest in this event. Yes. Entrees with Banana peppers and chilli varieties - Indian like Guntur mirchi, Kashmir mirchi, Dhani mirchi etc and also western type- poblano, pimento, Habanero, Jamaican Hot etc listed here in this chilli link ) are all welcome in JFI:Chillies.

Indira said...

I mean Cynthia, not Alice.

Sorry for getting your name wrong Cynthia!
(Never post a comment in a hurry.:))

ramya said...

Hey di,just came to ur blog to say hi...going good in trivandrum...will mail you..

Laxmi said...

hey there...
iam new here.. iam anamateur cook n love cooking (not a verygreat cook though) i wud like to participate in these fest or competiton... please temme how can i??do i need to start my own blog?

Indira said...

Hi Laxmi,

Thanks for your interest in JFI:Chilli event.

To participate: Please follow the guidelines and post an article or recipe of chilli at your blog, if you have one. Or email to Nandita.

Hope this helps.

- Indira

The Comic Project said...

love the recipes here though I don't like all the vegetables on display :-) And I miss my vengaaya sambar very badly...don't get vengaayam here :-(

Anonymous said...

Love the recipe here, im gonna surely try it sometime this week if i am not that busy, maybe visit my blog if ya get time Self Improvement

zlamushka said...

Hi Nandita,

I sent in my contribution, hope you got my e-mail :) if not, this is for you http://www.burntmouth.com/2007/08/beer-battered-aachar-stuffed-chili.html

I love chilies, so I cannot wait to try all the recipes displayed in the round up :)

Anonymous said...

I love Pahakkai Pitlai. This is a good recipe.

(Marriedtoadesi.com Kanchana's dad!)

Rumela said...

I like this Pahakkai Pitlai recipe. these pitlai recipe are sure to taste great and are extremely nutritious as well. I am going to make a batch for the holidays when my kids will be at home. I'll be sure that what they are eating is healthy.

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