Saturday, March 13, 2010

Bitter Gourd Spicy Stew(Pavakkai Pitlai)


Bitter Melon, also known as Balsam pear is a truly unique and bitter ingredient that is not yet well

known in the United States. It is used widely in Indian cuisine, lot of people peel the upper portion

to reduce the bitterness. But this bitterness is so good for health and recent researches have

shown it stimulates the production of insulin and recommends a regular intake of this vegetable.

The following recipe is slightly bitter and i haven’t added any sugar or jaggery to reduce the

bitterness. You cook a bitter vegetable and what do you expect sweet taste? So enjoy this

slightly bitter dish because bitterness is also a taste like sweet, sour and spicy.


Bitter Melon(Karela/Pavakai) – 2 medium sized

Tamarind – Goose berry sized ball

Cooked Toor Dal (Cooked by adding turmeric powder) – 1 Cup

Cooked black chick pea(kala channa) - handful

Salt – 1 3/4 Tsp(adjust this according to your taste)

Water – 3 3/4 Cups

Sambar Masala

Turmeric powder – 1 Tsp

Coriander Seeds – 2 Tbsp

Channa Dal – 1 Tbsp

Urad Dal – 1/2 Tbsp

Red Chili – 4 to 6 as per you taste and the spiciness of the red chili

Coconut – 1/4 cup

Oil – 2 Tsp


Oil – 1 Tsp

Asafoetida – 1/4 Tsp

Mustard seeds – 1 Tsp

Urad Dal – 1/2 Tsp

Green Chili – 1

Curry Leaves – 6 to 8


1) Wash, rinse and chop the bitter melon into thin circles. If the seeds are mature then

remove them else leave them as it is. Soak the tamarind in 1/2 cup of water.

2) Add 3/4 cup of water, turmeric powder and 1/4 tsp of salt and put the the chopped

bitter melon in this and let this boil in medium heat till the bitter melon is tender. Add

little bit of water if required. Make sure not to over cook, other wise you will get a bitter

melon puree and not sambar.

3) While this is boiling, heat a pan add 2 Tsp of oil and once it is hot add the coriander

seeds, channa dal, urad dal, red chili and coconut and saute till you get a nice aroma and

all the ingredients are slightly browned.

4) Let this cool for 5-10 minutes and then grind then into a coarse to fine powder and

set it aside.

5) Once the bitter melon is boiled, drain the remaining water and gulp it down, do not

discard it.

6) Squeeze out the tamarind pulp from the soaked water, and repeat this two more times

adding half cup of water each time to the pulp and repeating the same process.

7) Now to the cooked bitter melon, add the 1 1/2 cups tamarind water, remaining 1 1/2 cups

plain water, cooked toor dal, ground sambar powder, 1 1/2 tsp salt and simmer in the stove

for 10 minutes.

8) While this simmers, heat a pan and add a tsp of oil, to this add mustard seeds. Once the

mustard seeds stop spluttering add asafoetida, urad dal, green chili and curry leaves and

transfer the tempering to the simmering sambar and switch off the stove.

9) Serve this hot with rice or cooked quinoa. Do not limit quinoa to salads alone, they are

so versatile and with not such a great taste on their own, they taste so good with all these

spicy stews.



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