Bitter gourd or Pavakkai is one vegetable which I think has the fewest takers. Most don’t like it owing to its bitter taste. But it is packed with many health benefits. Also, when cooked in the right way using the right ingredients most of the bitterness can be masked. So, as I mentioned in my earlier post on Pavakkai Pitlai, I try to incorporate it in our menu at least once in 10 days.
Pachadi is a saucy vegetable preparation. Pachadis are of two types: one is the puli pachadi (vegetables cooked in tamarind and flavored with coconut and green chillies) and the other is the thayir pachadi (curd based). This tangy, sweet and spicy pachadi is the perfect combination with the rather mild molagootal and mulagutiam. Puli pachadi can be prepared with a variety of vegetables like lady’s finger, brinjals, Yellow Pumkins etc. Today I have used bitter gourd.
Ingredients Serves: 3 -4
1. Bittergourd - 2 medium Sized
2. Tamarind – A large lemon size
3. Jaggery – 2 tblsps
4. Turmeric Powder – a pinch
5. Salt to taste
1. Oil – 2 tsps
2. Mustard Seeds – 1 tsp
3. Channa Dal – 1 tsp
4. Asfoetida – little
5. Curry leaves – a few sprigs
Roast and grind
1. Urad Dal – 1 tsp
2. Dry Red Chillies – 4
3. Til/Sesame seeds – 1 tblsps
Wash and chop the bitter gourd into small pieces. Soak tamarind in hot water for 10 mins. Squeeze and extract tamarind juice and keep aside. In a Kadai, dry roast sesame seeds till color changes. Remove into a plate. Heat Kadai with ½ a tsp of oil, roast urad dal and dry red chillies till dal changes color. Cool and grind the three.
Heat a Kadai with oil, add mustard seeds. Once they crackle and channa dal. After dal changes color, add asfoetida and curry leaves. Then add the chopped bitter gourd, turmeric powder and salt. Fry for 5 to 6 mins. Now add the tamarind extract with ½ a cup of water and jaggery. Check for salt. Allow to boil for 5 mins or till the gourd is cooked. Finally sprinkle the ground powder and mix well. Pachadi should not be very water or too thick. It should be of a saucy consistency. Pavakkai Puli Pachadi is ready.
Note: Adjust quantity of jaggery depending on your taste. Generally this is slightly sweet, spicy and tangy. All these flavors together mask the bitterness of the gourd.
Variations: Instead of adding the ground powder you can also add Rasam powder and chilly powder while the tamarind is boiling. This also gives a good taste.
You can also add onions, while frying the gourd. Onions lend a slight sweetness to the dish.
You could also add a handful of groundnuts while tempering.