Pavvakai Pitla : Bitter gourd Sambhar with freshly ground spices

I had first encountered this sambhar long ago at a friends house, her mother is my go to person for Tamil food, every dish she makes is finger licking delicious. Whether it was the bowl of steaming hot rasam or a simple potato fry with rice and sambhar

Pavvakai Pitla : Bitter gourd Sambhar with freshly ground spices

Each dish would be so delicious and one day while we were ready to step out for drinks and dinner and I had to pick her up, she told me eat this before we go out. I rolled my eyes a little and then reluctantly had the first bite, the being reluctant vanished after the first bite though and soon I had finished a whole bowl of what she called as pavvakai pitla and steaming hot rice
Pavvakai Pitla : Bitter gourd Sambhar with freshly ground spices

The memories and taste of that lingered in my mind for a long time and then I ate it again somewhere and knew had to recreate this one in my kitchen. I spoke to my mother in law who is essentially from Andhra but married a Tamilian and does cook some fantastic tamil stuff, she said she did make it but was never happy with the way it turned out. A couple of calls to various aunts, some recipe book readings, some research on my favourite food blogs on Tamil and Kerala style food and I had a rough recipe jotted down on a paper, hoping that I would recreate the magic of that was still fresh in my head.

Pavvakai Pitla : Bitter gourd Sambhar with freshly ground spices

I have to admit that I couldn't get it right the first time, it wasn't bad but it wasn't mind-blowing awesome either but a couple of more tries, a few alterations and I think I am super happy with what I have on hand. A bowl of this reminds of the friend and her mom and the meals I have had with them so warmly. Reminds of many afternoon when I have just landed up their house with an assumption of being fed and have always been satisfied.

Pavvakai Pitla : Bitter gourd Sambhar with freshly ground spices
I had first encountered this sambhar long ago at a friends house, her mother is my go to person for Tamil food, every dish she makes is finger licking delicious. Whether it was the bowl of steaming hot rasam or a simple potato fry with rice and sambhar Each dish would be so delicious and one day whi...

Pavvakai Pitla : Bitter gourd Sambhar with freshly ground spices

Summary

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  • Coursemain course
  • Cuisinesouth indian
  • Yield4 s 4
  • Cooking Time30 minutesPT0H30M
  • Preparation Time10 minutesPT0H10M
  • Total Time40 minutesPT0H40M

Ingredients

Bitter gourd medium
2
Toor dal
1/2 cup
Boiled black channa (optional but recommended)
1/4 cup
Tamarind
1 tbsp
Jaggery
1/2 tbsp
Salt
to taste
To be ground in paste
Oil
1 tsp
Coriander seeds
1 tbsp
Urad dal
1 tbsp
Channa dal
1.5 tsps
Red chillies
3-4
Coconut (grated)
1/4 cup
For the tempering
Ghee (or use oil if you want this vegan)
2 tsps
Mustard seeds
1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seed
1/2 tsp
Hing
a pinch
Red chilli
1
Curry leaves
2 sprigs

Steps

  1. To make the masala - Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan or kadhai. Sauté coriander seeds, channa dal, urad dal and red chillies and raw rice. When the dal is slightly browned, add the coconut and sauté till it is toasted and lightly browned . Set aside for cooling. Once cool grind to a paste adding little water if required. Keep aside
  2. Peel the bittergourd lightly to remove the hard crusted skin and cut them into rounds. I use the tender seeds but if the seeds are ripe and hard, I de seed the bitter gourd.
  3. Take 1 tsp of oil in a pan and fry the bitter gourd slightly for about 4-5 minutes
  4. Soak tamarind in 1 cup of warm water, extract its juice and discard the pulp. You can use tamarind paste as well, since all tamarind pastes tend to work differently use equivalent quantity for a gooseberry size tamarind ball
  5. Cook the toor dal in a pressure cooker. I let it whistle once and then reduce the flame and let it simmer for 3-4 minutes. If you like you can add the bitter gourd along with the dal and boil. I like the crunch and I use the fried one without boiling however I think in the traditional recipe it is boiled.
  6. To assemble, Heat 2 tsp of ghee and mustard seeds. When they splutters, add fenugreek seeds, red chilli, asafoetida, curry leaves and sauté till they are fragrant and slightly browned. At this point add tamarind extract.
  7. Bring to a boil and add boiled channa and bitter gourd (if not boiled along with toor dal). Bring to a boil again and add cooked toor dal, masala paste along with half a cup of water.
  8. Simmer for 4-5 minutes so that the flavours are all absorbed.
  9. Serve hot with steamed rice, palak stir fry and curd for a delicious, wholesome and satisfying meal
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