October 1, 2013

Paavakkai Pitlay/Bitter Gourd Gravy

How to make Paavakkai Pitlay/Bitter Gourd Gravy

                  In my childhood days, my Grandma often made this Pitlay & various other dishes with bitter vegetables; exclusively for my Grandpa who loved them. Back then, I never understood how somebody could love something bitter in taste (I still don't). It took years, for me to change from total refusal to reluctantly sampling the bitter vegetables like Paavakkai, Sundakkai and other rare & odd tasting, plant products. I can now, proudly say that the Bitter Gourd is a commonly cooked veggie in my kitchen. Fear not, my friends - Just follow my tricks to eliminate every ounce of bitterness from this gourd & reap all the benefits from it. 

Zero bitterness Paavakkai Pitlay/Bitter Gourd Gravy


2 Large Bitter Gourds - sliced & seeded
Tamarind pulp - 2 tbsp
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Salt & Jaggery - to taste
Coconut oil - 2 tbsp
1/2 cup Tuvar dal - cooked & mashed
Grated fresh coconut - 2 tbsp

Grind together:

Dry Red Chillies - 3-5 no:s
Coriander seeds/Dhania  - 1 tbsp
Urad dal - 1 tbsp
Channa dal - 1 tbsp
Black pepper - 1 tsp

Fry the above ingredients in a little bit of oil & grind coarsely along with 1/2 a cup of fresh grated coconut.


  1. Wash & slice the bitter gourds & arrange it scattered, on a plate.(Light green colored bitter gourds are supposedly less bitter.)
  2. If you like to preserve the bitterness of the gourd, you can skip to step 4. If not, sprinkle some salt on the slices & let it sit for few minutes, until the gourd sweats & you see tiny drops of moisture on it. Squeeze the slices & discard the liquid.
  3. Heat oil in a pan, drop the bitter gourd slices in it & fry on medium low heat, for a while until it's lightly golden in color.
  4. (If you are continuing from step 1 - Take the slices of gourd in a pan) Now add diluted tamarind extract, turmeric powder, salt & cook until it's soft.
  5. Add the mashed dal, ground paste, jaggery & cook till you get a thick gravy.
  6. Fry Mustard seeds, Urad dal, Curry leaves, 2 tbsp fresh grated coconut in coconut oil; add on top.
  7. Check seasoning & serve hot with a South Indian platter, or plain rice.


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