Monday, March 01, 2010

Zunka or Korda Pithla

Zunka is dry besan and onions mix cooked in oil. Zunka needs no introduction to most Indians, in the least they know that it is a Maharashtrian staple in the rural areas. Yet many confuse the Zunka with Pithla. The ingredients are the same so many call it Korda Pithala.

Mom and aunts made this Zunka atleast once a week. I remember it used to be made in a super sized kadhai and they used about 0.5 kg of besan, 1kg of onions and 250 ml of oil for a family of 18! It used to be quite dry with different types of bhakaris. But then those were the days of a full thali for lunch and dinner. So a dal and rice following it helped a lot. These days since I cook either only roti/ bhakari with bhaaji or Rice with dal and curry for separate meals. It is only on weekends I make full Thali meals. So when it is Zunka - Bhakari Bait (special planned menu) then I always have Matha/ Spicy butter milk to go with it.

One tradition in our family is we never use water or buttermilk or for that matter any other liquid in our Zunka. That is why we don't call it Korda Pithala. In many homes the leftover liquidy pithala  is dried out on a girdle the next day to get Korda pithala. Ours is not like that, we make it special. I think I have never eaten Zunka the way my family makes it anywhere outside our home. That is why infact my family would hate to eat Zunka outside home and not even at the Marathi specialty restaurants having Zunka on their menu, they were scorned at.

We the Koli family are famed for it. There are other such family specials, like our sheera,  Kanda Bhajji, fried batata pohe etc. Many who ate at our home would demand for these. Oh I forgot the very milky boiled tea. Especially in my village people sweared by the tea from our kitchen. I'm missing my Mum and Devaki Kaki whose cooking I loved, most times. Mothi Aai's Non veg dishes are a far off memory. Aruna Kaki's cooking has changed a lot, its not the same though delicious even now.

I'm missing everyone here Kaka, Kaki, my lil bros, Hrushi, Som, my 4 sisters younger versions ;), Duskya, Kalkay-which means Kalimata in Koli (I still hate her), Paro, Malay (my Mallu, Malmal no more! Now she is Khadbadit). Bhau, Vahini, Surekha Tai, all our maids, dogs, Sultan- Som's pet rooster. Oh and Sushil, can't miss him and his sample family. Eh, Don't ask me what all this means. I love you all :D* If you guys aren't shameless and happen to read this you will come to see me.

Am jogging myself out of this to come back to the Zunka recipe.


4 onions
1/4 cup besan/ chickpea flour
1 teaspoom coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
1 green chili
3 tablespoons oil or more
salt to taste
1 cup chopped cilantro

Pour the oil, add the onions. Fry till translucent. Then add the cut green chili and the spices, mix. Then add the besan and mix well. Cover with a lid and cook. Mix intermittently. Leave the cover on till it is cooked completely and the raw taste is no more. The besan will look fluffy once it is cooked properly. Add the salt and mix well.

Finally put off the heat and mix in the chopped cilantro.
Serves best with bhakari but chapati also works.


  1. your columns makes it sound really tasty..looks easy...will try it soon

  2. I have heard but never had Zunka. I guess the most famous one is with capsicum. both Hubby and I like to try different cuisine will try this one soon. also please sometime share the spicy buttermilk recipe. am a sucker for all kind of buttermilks.

  3. This is indeed a very unique way of making zunka and it sounds very yum. When I read your write up, I was certain that a no liquid version would use a LOT of oil, but no, you don't use a lot of oil either!

  4. I just love Zunka!!!! It's our all time favorite bhaji while travelling :)

  5. Sayantani sure will post the matha recipe for you. BTW the capsicum zunka is a city adaptation, there are many village even now, not just Maharashtra but in India where capsicum is not grown and they have never seen it. The onion one is the original one and that is what a poor farmer could afford everyday when he did not have other vegetables.

  6. Aquadaze here the trick is to use the juices of the onions to cook using less oil. But if you see 3 tablespoons is a lot for a bhaaji for 2 people at one time. I use a measured 2 teaspoons for a single meal for 2 for all other bhaajis. Zunka is an exception:)


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