Authentic Recipes from the Kitchens of Shriya, Nithu & Arthi!

Thakklai kai Pitlai – Thick Lentil Soup with Tomatillo

Pitlai is a traditional South Indian dish. It is nothing but another type of lentil soup with a few variation in the method of preparation. This is a combination of a sambar and kootu. Bitter gourd pitlai is a famous dish and you can substitute bitter gourd with any other vegetable. Today I have used tomatillos. I have never used it before and was under the consumption that it will be like tomatoes. But today I learnt that just the outer look is like a tomato and the inner flesh is more like a gooseberry. I loved the taste. You can serve white rice and lentil soup along with papad. It is a relish. Here you go…

Preparation time: 30 minutes

No. of servings: 5 to 6

Spice level: 3.5 out of 5


  • Tomatillo – 5
  • Toor dal or Split pegion peas – 3/4 cup
  • Turmeric powder
  • Whole tamarind – 1 tbsp or tamarind paste – 1/2 tbsp
  • Sambar powder – 1 tbsp
  • Chili powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Oil – 1 tsp
  • Salt – 2 and 1/2 tsp (adjust to taste)

Spice mix:

  • Oil – 1 tsp
  • Channa dal or Split chick pea – 1 tbsp
  • Urad dal or Split white gram- 1 tsp
  • Dry red peppers or chilies – 4
  • Coriander seeds – 1 and 1/2 tbsp
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • Curry leaves – 4 to 5 leaves
  • Shredded coconut or coconut bits – 3 tbsp


  • Oil – 1 tsp
  • Mustard seeds -1 tsp
  • Urad dal or Split white gram – 1 tsp
  • Dry red pepper – 1
  • Few curry leaves

Method of Preparation:

  1. Heat a tsp of oil in a pan and add asafoetida and channa dal. After a minute add urad dal, coriander seeds, dry red peppers and curry leaves.
  2. Fry for a minute and add coconut and again fry for a minute. Remove from heat and let it cool.
  3. Add some water and grind to a paste.
  4. Wash toor dal and cook with 2 cups of water, turmeric powder and a pinch of salt in a pressure cooker or microwave oven.
  5. Toor dal has to be mashed when you press it. Mash 3/4th of the cooked dal and mix it with the rest.
  6. Add tamarind to hot water and let it sit for sometime.
  7. Heat a tsp of oil in a sauce pan and add cut tomatillos and fry for a minute.
  8. Add a cup of water and let it boil.
  9. Extract the tamarind juice and add it to the sauce pan along with sambar powder. Let it boil and the raw smell of sambar powder be gone.
  10. Now mix the cooked dal and ground spices.
  11. When the tomatillos become tender add the dal mixture and let it come a boil.
  12. Turn off the stove. Pitlai is ready.
  13. For seasoning: Heat a tsp of oil in a small pan, add mustard seeds and let it splutter. Now add urad dal, dry pepper, curry leaves. When the urad dal becomes golden brown, remove from heat.
  14. Add this to the pitlai and serve along with white rice and papad.


  1. The soup is really ‘souperb’ and yummy! Must be aromatic!

  2. Very new recipe dear, love it 🙂

  3. Very tempting recipe.. looks yummy !!
    Indian Cuisine

  4. Super delicious curry, simply inviting..

  5. The curry looks very tempting and delicious. Very yummy 🙂

  6. I make pitlai with either pavakkai or kathirikkai but this is a new version with tomatillos…would love to give this recipe a sure try.

  7. This would go perfectly with some flatbread! Yummy!

  8. Wow.. Mouthwatering… 🙂 you do know that tomatillo is not thakkali kai right?

  9. So healthy and yummy!!! loved it..nice clicks

  10. Thanks for all your comments.

  11. Gday Lavenia Sladick here, I’d been simply looking for info about Thakkali kai Pitlai | Spicy Tasty in the search engines. So lucky of having found to know about this info. Saved myself lots of energy, thanks.