Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ravan Pithale

My friend, Shaliesh who thinks I know a little bit about old world recipes one day asked me if I knew to make Ravan Pithale. I had never in my dreams thought that there would be a much loved recipe named after Ravan. Yes Ravan of the Ramayan who generates emotions of hatred in a Hindu.

Then I started enquiring with may senior ladies where ever I went to learn the recipe of Ravan Pithale. Everyone told me that it had equal proportions of normal ingredients of a regular Pithale. Yet none of the women were confident about it. Many had tasted Ravan Pithale many many years ago made by their mothers or Ma-in-laws. Pithale is not a Koli traditional recipe at all so none of the senior ladies in my family could help me.

This is strange as Pithale is a curry made most times when falling short on the quantity of food or when one had a sudden hungry visitor or when there were no leftovers for the ladies after serving the men and children in the family in the old world family structure. It is common to hear how the rest of the family envied the women for slurping on hot Pithale . When actually they had thoughtfully sacrificed their share of food and served the men and children and then made a quick fix for themselves. Pithale is as common place but not Ravan Pithale I realized.

Then a on a trip to Gondavale our priest's wife checked her dairy for the recipe given by her mother. This recipe is adapted from what I remember from that conversation.

At home I was one of the few in the family who did not like Pithale. In our home we always make pithale with chunks of corn on the cob added to it hence I decided to use corn in this one too and make it more delicious but instead baby corn.

Well the reason it is called Ravan Pithale is due to the excesses in the proportions of ingredients. Traditionally in the Vidarbha when this Pithale is made all ingredients are used in equal proportions including red chili powder. So if one was using 1/2 cup chickpea flour then it required 1/2 cup red chili powder !! besides oil, peanut powder etc. I however have chickened out and used 1 tablespoon of red chili powder which is pushing the limits for us.


1/2 cup chickpea flour/ besan
1 cup baby corn pieces ( This is my addition to the traditional)
1/2 cup raw peanut powder
1/2 cup oil
10-12 curry leaves
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
1/2 cup red chili powder ( I chickened out and used only 1 tablespoon)
salt to taste
4-5 cups water
1 handful chopped cilantro

In a kadahi heat the oil till smoky. Prepare the seasoning by spluttering mustard, followed by asafoetida and curry leaves. Then add the chickpea flour and reduce the heat. Stir and mix well till the chickpea flour emanates a nice nutty fragrance. Next add the raw peanut powder and roast till 5 mins. Add in the red chili powder at this point. Mix once and pour water. Increase the heat to medium. Keep the consistency of the pithale creamy and thick. Adjust water accordingly. I used about 5 cups of water. Add salt as per taste. Now add the baby corn and boil for 10 mins or till you see a little oil rise on the top.

Put off the heat and add chopped cilantro and mix well.

Serve with hot steamed rice.

This is a meal cooked in villages so mostly without any other accompaniments except onion. It has to be mixed with fingers and slurped for thorough enjoyment.

I enjoyed the Ravan Pithale and kept a napkin handy to wipe off the sweat. I would recommend a cool lassi or glass of butter milk to follow to help douse the fire generated by the ravenous gulping of Ravan Pithale or a couple of bananas must follow.

Patal Pithala: The regular Pithala that can be eaten with rice.
Korda Pithala: Dry Pithala to be enjoyed with Bhakari and onion.
Takatla Pithala: This is the version I prefered as a child as it used Tak or buttermilk in it.
Kulithacha Pithale: Horsegram flour pithale that is a favorite among the Konkani people. My SIL swears by it.


  1. I am so happy to see this post...the reason is that I noticed the recipe for "ravan pithale" in the Marathi cookbook "Ruchira" a few weeks ago and was really amazed that while the ingredients were ordinary ones, the proportions were bizarre- I honestly thought it was a typo to be using 1/2 vaati chilli powder etc. Now your post explains it all :)

  2. Nupur I would have thought the same way. Imagine that much chili powder will make a civilian do a march past!! Now you know the secret of the the thriving piles clinics in Vidharbha. Yeow!!!!

  3. Very interesting post....the background...the story everything made this post and dish very enticing :)


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