Pitlay is a sambar like kuzhambu or lentil gravy, with a medley of vegetables cooked in thick tamarind juice. The spices added give the dish a lovely taste and makes it different from sambar. Its unique to Tamilnadu and Palghat cuisine.

Recipe taken from Cook and See Vol 1


  • Vegetables to be used : Yam (senai), colocasia, Potatoes, brinjals, drumstick, chow chow, bitter gourd, cluster beans, sabre beans.
  • Any one of the above or combination of two or three, chopped medium sized – 1 cup,
  • Red gram dal 1 cup (cooked soft),
  • Tamarind (NEW) a small lemon size / 15 to 20 grams
  • Salt 1 teaspoon,
  • Coriander leaves few,
  • To be ground to paste : Coriander seeds 1½ teaspoon, Bengal gram dal 1 teaspoon, black gram dal ¾ teaspoon,dried red chillies, coconut gratings 1 cup,
  • For Tempering : Oil 1 tablespoon, mustard ½ teaspoon, black gram dal ¾ teaspoon, dried red chillies 2, curry leaves few, asafoetida.


  1. Soak the tamarind in 2 cups of water.
  2. In  a kadai or a deep pan,  heat 1 teaspoon of oil, add coriander seeds, bengal gram dal, black gram dal, dried red chillies and coconut gratings. Shallow fry to brown and grind to coarse paste.
  3. In the same pan, heat rest of the oil, add mustard as it splutters, add black gram dal, red chillies, asafoetida and curry leaves, shallow fry for half a minute.
  4. Add vegetable chosen (chopped) and shallow fry. If colocasia or potatoes are used, cook, peel separately and add in the pan. Other vegetables can be added directly and half cooked.
  5. Meanwhile extract juice from the softened  tamarind by squeezing it, to get a thick juice, add the juice to the vegetables, add salt and turmeric powder.
  6. Cook in low heat for 4 to 6 minutes o till the vegetables are nearly cooked .
  7. When the tamarind is bubbling and the vegetables have nearly cooked, add the paste and cook for 3 to 4 minutes.
  8. Now add cooked red gram dal and simmer for 4 minutes or more, so that ingredients come together to make a thick golden gravy.
  9. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves/ curry leaves .
  10. Serve with hot rice .


  1. Dried beans like garbanzo beans , mochai, soya beans, brown chick pea beans  etc can be cooked and  added to Pitlay.
  2. Soaked Bengal gram dal can also be added .
  3. One tablespoon of rice flour can be added to get a thicker Pitlay.
  4. Please note most Tamilian cuisines use , groundnut oil or sesame oil for  tempering and deep frying , some times coconut oil too, to get the authentic taste of the dish.