When I mention the vegetable bitter gourd (pavakkai, karela), I know there are quite a few people out there, like my husband and daughter who are going to turn off. As for me, I love this vegetable, especially the way my mom makes it (will do a post later ), but the only way the family will take it is in the form of a fry (where the vegetable is killed off it's valuable nutrients ) or this pitlai, I prefer the latter for known reasons. Adding tamarind and other spices brings down the bitterness, and it tastes delicious with rice and adding a little ghee makes it even more tastier, I know many of you will have your own versions, this is mine..
Need To Have
- Bitter Gourd - sliced 2 cups
- Tuvar Dal - 1/2 cup
- Tamarind - small lemon size
- Tomato Puree - 5 tablespoons
- Turmeric Powder - 1/2 teaspoon
- Sambar Powder - 2 teaspoons
- Jaggery - 2 teaspoons
- Mustard Seeds - 1 teaspoon
- Grated Coconut - 1 + 1/2 tablespoons
- Curry Leaves - 10
- Dried Red Chillies - 3
- Coriander Seeds - 1 tablespoon
- Black Peppercorns - 1/2 teaspoon
- Chana Dal - 1 teaspoon
- Urad Dal - 1 teaspoon
- Asafoetida - 1/2 teaspoon
Pressure cook the tuvar dal with half of the turmeric powder and extract the juice from the tamarind. For the bitter gourd, remove the spike-like things off the skin ( slightly brush it with a peeler, do not remove the skin entirely ), deseed them and then slice them. Cook the bitter gourd pieces with the tamarind extract, sambar powder, remaining turmeric powder and salt. Roast all the ingredients under roast-and-grind and make a paste with the coconut. Once the vegetable is almost cooked, add the tomato puree and jaggery, cook for a couple of mins, then add the cooked dal and ground paste and cook it for 5 more mins. Finally heat some oil, add the mustard seeds, once it stops spluttering, add the curry leaves and pour this over the prepared pitlai. Serve warm with rice, some vegetable curry and pappads for a complete meal.
Sending it to Roshan's Cucina who is hosting the Kerala Kitchen event this month,
to Spicy Treats for the Show Me Your Hits - Healthy Delights event and
to Wit, Wok And Wisdom for the Love For Lentils event.
The red chillies I have are very hot, use yours wisely.
Can replace the tomato puree with whole tomatoes, but cook it along with the bitter gourd.
Can double the amount of coconut and do the seasoning with ghee, but I prefer to keep it this way.