Pavakkai pitlai recipe | Bittergourd pitlai recipe

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Pavakkai pitlai recipe

Pavakkai pitlai recipe – A south Indian special curry recipe with bitter gourd, chickpeas and tur dal/moong dal. It is said that even before the origin of sambar, Pitlai existed and this tamilian curry which is prepared with tamarind, peppercorns and green gram dal. Pitlai is almost similar to sambar.

cites from ” The Story of Sambhar by Padmini Natarajan

While this has numerous transformations now. major being in the choice of dal (tuvar/tur dal or the moong dal) and secondly if the coconut is ground raw/roasted. I have adapted using tur dal and raw coconut as to roasting coconut will make it more similar to varutharacha sambar.

Pavakkai pitlai recipe

Pavakkai pitlai – video recipe

Pavakkai pitlai recipe

Pavakkai pitlai recipe

Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time50 minutes
Total Time1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 4 people


  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1.5 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp chana dal
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 6-8 no red chillies
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 cups bittergourd chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 lemon sized tamarind
  • 1 cup cooked and mashed tur dal
  • 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida
  • 1 sprig curry leaves


  • soak tamarind in water and squeeze the tamarind to get its extract.
  • soak chickpeas overnight. wash and cook the chickpeas with salt until soft.
  • cook tur dal with enough water and measure 1 cup of cooked and mashed dal and keep it aside.
  • Heat ghee and star frying coriander seeds, chana dal, cumin and red chillies in medium heat until evenly brown.
  • take it out to a blender and add freshly grated coconut. grind it to a fine paste. keep it aside
  • heat oil in a pan and fry the chopped bitter gourd pieces with salt. Fry until slightly brown.
  • Add the tamarind extract, turmeric powder and let it cook until the vegetable is soft.
  • now add the prepared masala, mix well and let it come to a boil.
  • when it boils and raw smell leaves, add chickpeas and cooked dal along with salt (check and adjust salt)
  • Boil the curry for another 5 minutes.
  • meanwhile, melt ghee and crackle mustard seeds in it.
  • together add asafoetida and when it changes color, drop a sprig curry leaves and wait till it turns crisp.
  • add the tempering to the curry and mix well.
  • serve hot with rice.


How to make Pitlai recipe with bittergourd

To roast and grind

Melt ghee in a thick bottomed pan or kadai and melt ghee in it. You can also add oil and skip ghee. Add coriander seeds, chana dal(kadalai paruppu).

Further add cumin seeds and red chillies. start frying in medium heat until the dal and coriander seeds are evenly browned.

Take it out to a plate/blender and add fresh coconut grated and grind it to a fine paste and keep it ready. This will be out base masala for pitlai.

Cooking pitlai

Heat oil in a pan, start frying bitter gourd with salt.

Fry until the bitter gourd is roasted and slightly crisp. add more oil if needed to get it fried.

Pavakkai pitlai recipe

Meanwhile I have soaked lemon sized tamarind in water. squeeze the tamarind and filter the juice. Pour the tamarind water along with turmeric powder. cook the bitter gourd in tamarind water until it gets soft.

When the bitter gourd is cooked, stir in the freshly prepared masala.

When the mix comes to a boil, add cooked and mashed dal, boiled chickpeas. adjust salt as per your taste.

Pavakkai pitlai recipe

Let it boil for few minutes on high heat until you can smell the beautiful aroma and once all the ingredients blends together.

Pavakkai pitlai recipe

Meanwhile, heat ghee again to prepare the tempering. crackle mustard seeds and add asafoetida to it.

Lastly, add curry leaves and get it crisp.

Pour the tempering over the curry and mix well.

serve it hot with rice and poriyal.

Pavakkai pitlai recipe
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