I was never very fond of bitter gourds. Actually very few people are. Most people don't like the bitter taste of the gourd. But then, I realized at some stage in my cooking journey that if you cook the vegetable properly, most of its bitterness can be masked. Now I have taken a liking to this vegetable, what with its numerous health benefits and I do make it a point to have it atleast once in 15 days.
Pavakkai Pitlai is the dish I prepare most often with this vegetable. The recipe I am sharing today is Hubby's signature dish. When he prepared this first time I was not at all ready to eat it saying it would be very bitter, but he assured me that it won't be so and true to his words it wasn't as bitter as I expected. I can't say that you won't find it bitter at all.
Try this mixed with some steaming hot rice and I'm sure you will want to have more of it. You can have it as an accompaniment with rice and dal/molagootal too.
Serves 2 to 3
What you'll need
- Bitter gourd – 2 big, about 3 cups, chopped into small pieces
- Onion – 1 big
- Tamarind – size of big lemon
- Tumeric Powder – ¼ tsp
- Chilly Powder – 1 tsp (increase if you spicier)
- Salt to taste
- Jaggery – 2 tbsp (See notes)
- Oil – 2 tbsp
- Mustard Seeds – ½ tsp
- Channa Dal/Kadala Paruppu - tsp
- Curry Leaves – few
- Heat a Kadai with oil, temper with mustard seeds, once they splutter then add the channa dal after they turn golden add the curry leaves.
- Now add the chopped onions and sauté well, once they turn light brown, add the chopped bittergourd/pavakkai and fry.
- Add turmeric powder and salt to taste and fry on low to medium flame in open pan.
- Keep stirring once in a while. Fry till the bittergourd pieces are roasted well. It may take anywhere between 10 to 12 minutes.
- In the meanwhile, soak the tamarind in very little water and take out a thick extract.
- After the pieces are fried well, now add Chilly powder and sauté for half a minute, then add the tamarind extract and jaggery. Mix well. Check for seasoning and add salt and chilly powder if required.
- Cook on low flame till all the moisture is almost absorbed.
Serve with rice.
If you can’t have jaggery, skip it and add more onions, the onions will help in lending a sweet taste and will reduce the bitterness of the gourd.
You can omit onions and make it as a no onion version too, in this case don’t skip the jaggery.
Adjust the spices according to your liking.