Pavakkai Pitlai | Bittergourd Pitlai | Pavakkai Sambar

Bittergourd Pitlai

Bittergourd (Pavakkai) is one of the recipes which I wanted to post since a long time. One of Nithyascorner’s member requested for it, and here I am finally with this post. Gj is a big fan of Pavakkai and he has to have it at least twice a week. I make Crispy Bitter Gourd Fries often and the fries have become my favorite family recipe. Both my in-laws as well as my parents do not make dishes with pavakkai often. My father does not like it at all because of its bitterness. When my in-laws or my parents visit us, we do not make this at home. Pavakkai Pitlai is very similar to Sambar. I have it with idly/dosa and rice. Pavakkai lovers or health conscious friends, do try this dish. I am sure you will love it.

Bittergourd Pitlai
Preparation Time. 5 minutes
Cooking Time. 30 minutes
Recipe Category. Lunch
Recipe Cuisine. Indian
Serves. 3

Bittergourd Pitlai


Pavakkai (Bittergourd) – 1/4 kg.
Toor dal – 1/2 cup
Tamarind – 1 lemon size
Turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon

Jaggery – as desired (optional)
Salt – as desired
To Fry in Oil and Grind
Coconut Oil – 1 tbsp (You can also use regular oil)
Coconut – 1/4 to 1/2 cup
Coriander Seeds – 1/2 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon
Red Chillies – 4 to 6 nos.
Urad Dal – 1 tablespoon
Peppercorns – 1.5 teaspoon
Gram dal (Channa Dal) – 1 tablespoon
To Season
Mustard Seeds (Kadugu) – 1 teaspoon
Urad Dal   – 1 tablespoon
Asafoetida (Perungayam) – a pinch
Curry Leaves – 2 sprigs
Note. The ingredients shown will vary with the original quantity.


1. Pressure cook 1/2 cup toor dal using 1.5 cups of water for 3 whistles. It will take about 10 minutes. Then wait for some time, release the pressure, and open the cooker lid. The toor dal should be mushy if not just mash it with a ladle. Remember, you will need 1 to 1.5 cups of cookedToor dal for the Pitlai.

Bittergourd Pitlai

2. Boil pavakkai using 2 cups of water, turmeric powder, and salt. Soak tamarind in water and extract its juice. Then add the tamarind juice to the pavakkai and boil well.

Bittergourd Pitlai

3. Meantime, heat oil in a pan. Add coriander seeds and fry till it sizzles. Add Gram dal (Channa Dal) and fry till golden brown. Add red chillies, peppercorns, coconut and fry for two minutes. Let them cool down. Then grind them using little water.

Bittergourd Pitlai

4. Now add Toor dal (1 to 1.5 cups of cooked Toor dal ) and mix well. Then add the ground paste and jaggery. Cook for five more minutes. In a separate pan, heat oil and let the mustard seeds splutter. Then add Urad Dal, curry leaves, and asafoetida and fry till Urad Dal turns golden brown. Now add the seasoning to the pitlai. Give a quick stir.

Bittergourd Pitlai

Now Pavakkai Pitlai is ready!

Bittergourd Pitlai

Serve hot with the following recipes:

Beans and Carrot Poriyal, Cabbage Stir-Fry, Kovakkai Fry / Tindora Fry, Mango Pachadi (With Sugar), Beetroot Curry – Sweet Version, Brinjal Pirattal, Broccoli Poriyal, Brussels Sprouts Stir Fry, Dry Spiced Cabbage, Jackfruit Seeds Subzi, Potato and Egg Poriyal, Potato Podimass,Chappathi

Bittergourd Pitlai


1. You can substitute coconut oil with any other oil.
2. You can also add 2 tablespoon of coconut milk at the time of adding jaggery.

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