Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Pavakka(bittergourd) pitlai

You either like bitter gourd or you don't....there's no grey area between the two. I think this is partly because of the name......when there's "sweet"potatoes, "french" beans, "pearl" onions and other such nice sounding veggies, who on earth wants to eat something that proclaims itself to be a "bitter" gourd???
That's not to say that the bitter gourd is totally without its takers. I for one have always liked it. Pavakka (the Malayalam & Tamil name for bitter gourd) Pitlai is a wholesome, nutritious curry that incorporates a lot of flavours - it has the bitterness of pavakka, tanginess of tamarind, sweetness of coconut and spiciness of chillies....and of course it gets the power of proteins from tuar dal.

Here's what you need to make it:
Bitter gourd - 1 medium sized
Tamarind - lemon sized ball soaked in hot water for 15 minutes
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Tuar dal - 3/4 cup
Fresh grated coconut - 3/4 cup
Chana dal - 2 tsp
Red chilli - 2 (modify according to your level of spice tolerance)

For seasoning:
Oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Split urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - a few sprigs

What to do:
  • Cook tuar dal. Mash well and set aside.
  • Heat a tsp of oil in a pan. Fry chana dal and red chillies in this. Add a pinch of asafoetida and switch off the heat. Once this cools, grind it to a smooth paste along with grated coconut.
  • Extract the juice from tamarind. If you are using ready made tamarind extract, use about 3/4 tsp.
  • Slice bitter gourd into thin round slices and deseed it.
  • Cook bitter gourd slices in tamarind water to which turmeric powder and salt has been added.
  • Once it is cooked, add the ground mixture to this. Boil for 4-5 minutes.
  • Then add the cooked tuar dal. Mix well and heat for a minute or two. If you feel the curry is too thick at this stage, add a little bit of water.
  • Heat a tsp of oil. Season it with mustard seeds, urad dal and curry leaves. Once the mustard seeds pop, pour this over the pitlai.
  • Serve hot with rice, dosa or idli.

Dosa served with pitlai

Iam taking a bowlful of this pitlai over to Linda at Out of the Garden for JFI-Toor dal.

Edited to add: This also goes to Pooja for her Veggie of the Week event featuring bittergourd this week.


remya said...

thats a lovely dish...i like bittergourd dishes...a little bitterness make the dishes more tastier....

Seema said...

Love Pitla & Pavakkai Pitla is my Fav!!! Lovely dish, thanks for a nice recipe.

Rina said...

Hi Jayashree, Love pavakka. This is a very unique preparation for me. Though when I was in Chennai, had this yummy gravy, in friends house, I never tried it myself. Will surely try this time when I grocery Pavakka.

Jsut one question? Do you live in Toronto, and by any chance know, Kavitha who also leaves here. Kay always mentioned about one Jayashree when we wanted to have a desi torontorians meet. Just checking if you are that Jayashree.

BTW, if you know kay, is she back from India yet?

Beautiful entry too, dear. Bookmarked!!!!

Pooja said...

this is completely new dish for me , i think i should try it , bitter gourd is very good for killing cholestrol too ! thanks to sharing a nice recipe with bitter gourd. :)

Sagari said...

nice recipe have to try looks delecious

Jayashree said...

Remya, that's so true...the bitterness definitly enhances the taste.
Seema,thank you for visiting. let me know how it turns out if you do try. No, I don't live in Toronto.
Pooja, do try it is pretty easy to make and healthy too.
Sagari, thank u.

bee said...

i love bittergourd in all forms, and don't like french beans and pearl onions. :D

Cynthia said...

I am firmly in the camp of liking, rather loving bitter gourd :)

Raks said...

Pitlai with dosai and idlie?Sounds new to me...we usually have it as an accompaniment with rice...
Nice entry for the event Jayashree!!

Latha Narasimhan said...

I too love paharkai! :) Nice recipe of pittlai!

DEEPA said...

wow!!! i love pavakkai !!this one is yummy one .....i make them often ...

J said...

I'm not a bittergourd fan, but this combo sounds unique to me!

Lissie said...

i had heard about pavakai pitlai but never tried it. the recipe sounds great! thanks for sharing!!

Sagari said...

thats a yummy recipe jayashee looks lovely

Laavanya said...

I made chow chow pitlai recently and loved it. Must try your pavakkai pitlai.

Mythreyee said...

This is my hubby's most fav food.

Pooja said...

thank you jayashree for sending this too for VoW bitter gourd :) .