Pithlu/Besan ka sabji

October 14, 2019mayurisjikoni
Blog post

Does the theme title sound absolutely weird? It does but its one that Renu who blogs at Cook With Renu, decided that we should put on our thinking caps. As for me as soon as the theme was chosen, I knew that Pithlu or besan ka sabji is what I’m going to make. So what is the theme all about? Well, Renu wanted us to presume that we have no vegetables in the fridge or pantry and still are suppose to put a simple and yet filling meal on the table. In reality, getting or ordering take away is a much better option. Before I tell you more about the dish I prepared, my friend Renu has a wonderful blog with recipes ranging from bakes to Indian dishes. I recently tried out her Instant Tomato Rasam which turned out so delicious. It helped to clear up my achy throat. I want to try out her recipe for Ragi Mudde, a typical Karnataka breakfast and the healthier all lentil Split Green Moong Dal Idli.

Can one prepare a Vegetarian meal without vegetables?

Most definitely you can. In this text I will mainly refer to the Indian Cuisine. Years back when irrigation systems were not available, farmers depended entirely on the rains natural streams, wells and stored water for their crops. While rainy season and winters meant an abundance of vegetables in most parts of India, summer was another story altogether. Deserts and semi arid areas could not grow vegetables, and preserved, frozen or canned vegetables were not readily available. This meant that people had to depend on lentils, grains and pulses that were stored in cool parts of the house in big earthen pots during harvest time. I remember seeing those huge pots with rice, wheat and lentils at my maternal grandparents home in the village. Most lentils were prepared with vegetable during the dry season and served with rice or rotis. Pithlu, dal dokhri without vegetables, khatta moong, made with yogurt, vadi nu shaak made with sun dried lentil dumplings are some the dishes made when vegetables are scarce. These are served with bhakri, roti, paratha, rotla or rice to make a complete meal.

What is Pithlu?

Pithlu is a very easy dish that comes together in a matter of under five minutes. Its made from chickpea flour also known as gram flour, besan or chana no lot. This gluten free curry, sabji or shaak does not require much ingredients. Few spices like turmeric, mustard and cumin seeds are added along with fresh ginger and green chillis. Similar recipes exist both in the Rajasthani and Maharashtrian cuisines known as besan ka sabji and pithla respectively.

Can you add onion and garlic?

Most certainly you can if its available. Chop the onion and stir fry it in the oil after the mustard and cumin seeds sizzle. Stir fry till it becomes soft. Then add the flour.

Add garlic along with the ginger and chilli.

What if green chilli and ginger are not available?

You can add red chili powder and a bit of ginger powder.

Can I make a vegan version of pithlu?

Yes, you can, just omit yogurt from the recipe.

My recipe source

My hubby’s aunt, mamiji would make pithlu often. The first time she made it for us was when we decided to visit them one evening. She insisted that we stay for dinner. I was a bit hesitant as she had not prepared anything. “Let’s go into the kitchen and prepare the meal while the men talk”, she said. I was wondering when will we have dinner if we start cooking now. It was nearly 8p.m. She asked me to get the dough for the paratha ready while she took out the chickpea flour and began cooking that in a wide pan. As I watched her, I was wondering what she was making. I asked her and she replied “Pithlu”. What is pithlu I asked her and she simply replied that taste it first. Pithlu was ready in no time. We made the parathas and within 15 minutes dinner was served. This simple dish was the yummiest.

Ever since I learnt this easy recipe from mamiji, I make it sometimes to accompany a vegetable side dish. I’ve even made it with onion and garlic and it tastes awesome. It tastes best with paratha or bhakri.

So let’s get to the easy recipe for this gluten free, satvik or Jain Pithlu.

What is Jain food?

Whenever you read Jain food it means that the food is prepared without any vegetables that grow underground like potatoes, carrots, ginger, onion, garlic etc.

pithlu 4

pithlu collage

pithlu 5

pithlu 6

pithlu 7


Serves 2

½ cup chickpea flour (besan, gram flour, chana no lot)

2 tbsp oil

½ tsp mustard seeds (rai)

½ tsp cumin seeds (jeera)

¼ tsp asafetida (hing)

¼ tsp turmeric powder (haldi)

½ tsp salt

1¼ cup water

½ cup plain yogurt (optional)

1 tsp ginger paste

½ – 1 tsp green chilli paste

1-2 tbsp fresh  chopped coriander

  1. Heat oil in a wide pan over medium heat.
  2. Add mustard and cumin seeds.
  3. As soon the seeds begin to pop and sizzle, add asafetida.
  4. Add chickpea flour and lower the heat.
  5. Stir fry the flour till it begins to bubble and turns slightly pinkish.
  6. Add ginger, chilli pastes, salt and turmeric powder.
  7. Mix well and add the water.
  8. Keep stirring till the pithlu becomes thick.
  9. Add yogurt and mix well.
  10. Add chopped coriander.
  11. Serve immediately with bhakri, paratha or rotla.


  • Make sure you let the flour roast well in the oil over low heat otherwise you’ll get a raw taste.
  • Low heat is essential or else the flour will burn.
  • Keep stirring the mixture after you add water to avoid any lumps.
  • Add curry leaves in the oil along with the flour if you like.

A little request:

If you do try this recipe then please either

  • add a comment below,
  • send a picture to my email mayuri.ajay.patel62@gmail.com
  •  tag me as #mayuri_jikoni on Instagram
  • or tag me on Twitter as #Mayuri1962

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  • The Girl Next Door

    October 14, 2019 at 10:26 pm

    This is quite similar to the Maharashtrian pithla or the Bombay Chutney of Tamilnadu. I love both versions, and would like to try out this Gujarati style too. It surely looks delicious!

    1. mayurisjikoni

      October 15, 2019 at 2:16 pm

      Thanks Priya. Try out the Gujarati version, though even in that we sometimes use onion and garlic.

  • poonampagar

    October 15, 2019 at 3:27 am

    I make pithla often with garlic and onion but never tried it with yoghurt. Next time I will try your version.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      October 15, 2019 at 2:15 pm

      Thanks Poonam, try it as it tastes different.

  • FoodTrails

    October 15, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    Besan comes so handy for such times when there is shortage of veggies or we need something quick and comforting.. Pithlu looks so inviiting,love to have it with masala parantha..

    1. mayurisjikoni

      October 16, 2019 at 8:25 pm

      Thank you so much Swaty. You should try the pithlu with onion and garlic. It tastes so good.

  • Jagruti’s Cooking Odyssey

    October 17, 2019 at 10:18 am

    Hahaha, love the theme KHALI FRIDGE! Mum used to make this sabji when there was no time to go to market to get fresh veg or in summer and monsoon not much veggies available. Goes so well with hot phulka and hot steamy rice..so yum!

    1. mayurisjikoni

      October 17, 2019 at 5:53 pm

      Thanks Jagruti, yes interesting themes is what makes us cook long forgotten recipes. I will try pithlu with phulka as we usually make bhakri.

  • Renu Agrawal Dongre

    October 19, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    One of our favourites and we make it when we are bores of eating any veggies and want something different. I am loving the creamy texture of this dish, would love to enjoy it with some Jowar bhakri

    1. mayurisjikoni

      October 20, 2019 at 8:14 pm

      Thank you so much Renu. This recipe comes to my rescue when I need to make something in a hurry.

  • preethi76

    October 19, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    I make bombay chutney at home. Would love to try your version too. A life saver recipe for me when i am late from work. Will try your version soon.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      October 20, 2019 at 8:13 pm

      Thanks Preethi,hope you like it.

  • Vasusvegkitchen

    October 20, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    Pithlu looks very delicious with less and easily available ingredients di. We prepare similar recipe called Bombay chutney by adding onions for poori and dosas di. But your version of adding yogurt looks amazing, will try it.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      October 20, 2019 at 8:11 pm

      Thank you so much Aruna. I will have to try out Bombay chutney.

  • themadscientistskitchen

    November 6, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    Such a simple yet delicious dish pithlu is. I still remember when we had unexpected guests we had this dish as the main course. Of course all of us enjoyed it and loved the company it meant. Unfortunately now guests will call before coming or we order in.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      November 6, 2019 at 4:17 pm

      That’s so true Archana, so we really don’t get a chance to make something quick and enjoy the company.

  • Mina Joshi (@GiveMeSomeSpice)

    November 7, 2019 at 7:30 pm

    Your recipe reminded me of my bhabhi making something similar when she visited us years ago. But I had forgotten about. Love your write up explaining why such recipes were created by women to feed families in dry seasons. It looks delicious and those parathas look great too.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      November 7, 2019 at 7:41 pm

      Thank you so much Mina.Try the recipe, its easy and delicious.

  • Mireille Roc (@ChefMireille)

    November 8, 2019 at 5:16 am

    this reminds me of the besan chutney I made a few years ago – maybe it is same thing just different name. Yours looks so thick and creamy. Great Texture!

    1. mayurisjikoni

      November 8, 2019 at 6:01 pm

      Thanks Mireille, I’ve had the chutney in Mumbai and it tends to be less thick. Pithlu is cooked to a thick consistency so that its easy to scoop it with a piece of paratha.

  • shobhakeshwani

    November 10, 2019 at 11:51 pm

    I love this dish .. In Maharashtra it is called Pithla or Bombay Chutney. So easy to make and tasty as well.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      November 11, 2019 at 3:53 pm

      Thanks Shobha, I love it too.

  • Sandhya Ramakrishnan

    November 12, 2019 at 2:24 am

    I love this besan ki sabji when I am out of any vegetables. We call it the Bombay chutney. I add onions and tomato if I have them in hand. This is so delicious with poori. Now I am tempted to make some soon!

    1. mayurisjikoni

      November 12, 2019 at 4:30 pm

      Thank you so much Sandhya, will try it with poori next time.

  • godhanmasala

    February 7, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    Simply superb idea..Sharing it..

  • Pithlu/Besan ka sabji — Mayuri’s Jikoni – GM Foods

    February 7, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    […] via Pithlu/Besan ka sabji — Mayuri’s Jikoni […]

  • Mrinal

    October 28, 2022 at 11:50 am

    Besan ki lei as there is no sabzi in this dish.

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