Did I just hear you say, I don’t like bitter gourd? Think again…Yes, Bitter gourd is bitter and that is the nature of the vegetable. But if cooked properly using the right ingredients and technique, the bitterness of the dish can be masked very well. Bitter gourd is one of my family’s favorite vegetable. We even grow it in our backyard. The plant is a climber and it needs very good support for good yield. For the past few years, we have such a good yield of it, that we freeze it for the whole year.
This is a kind of sambhar that is exclusive made with Pavakkai. The garbanzo beans in the pittalai add a different layer of texture and flavor. Pittalai can also be made with other vegetables, but making it with pavakkai is very common. I would highly recommend that if you have not tried using bitter gourd before, try using it with this recipe. The goodness of the vegetable definitely out pars the bitterness of it.
Ingredients to make Pavakkai Pittalai (Serves 4-6 people)
- Pavakkai – 2 large (cut in circles with the center removed)
- Garbanzo beans – ½ cup (soaked overnight and cooked)
- Tamarind – size of lime
- Cooked red gram dal (toor dal) – 1 cup
- Mustard – 1 tsp
- Black gram dal (urad dal) – 1 tsp
- Curry leaves – few
- Cilantro – few
- Asafetida – ½ tsp
- Salt – to taste
- Jaggery/brown sugar – 2tsp
- Coriander seeds – 2 tsp
- Bengal gram dal (Channa dal) – 1 ½ tsp
- Black gram dal (Urad dal) – 1 tsp
- Red chilies – 4-5
- Grated coconut – ¼ cup
- Wash and cut the pavakkai. Dissolve the tamarind in water and extract juice. Cook the vegetable in the tamarind water, adding ½ tsp of sambhar powder, asafetida and salt.
- Add the beans when the vegetable is half cooked and continue to boil until the pavakkai is cooked.
- Now add the ground paste and cooked dal and continue to boil until the sambhar thickens. If needed, a little bit of rice flour can be dissolved in water and added to make the pittalai thick. Add the Jaggery/ brown sugar and mix well.
- Season with mustard seeds, urad dal, curry leaves and asafetida. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with rice.
- This can also be served with idly or dosa.