Pavvakai Pitla, a sambhar made from bitter gourd and freshly ground spices is such a wonderful way to eat bitter gourd (Karela). For those who don’t like bitter gourd, this sambhar can be a good initiation dish!
I had first encountered Pavvakai Pitla long ago at a friend’s 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. 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 so called reluctance vanished after the first bite though. Soon, I had finished a whole bowl of what she called as pavvakai pitla and steaming hot rice.
The memories and taste of that lingered in my mind for a long time. 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 food. While she said she did make it, she 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 the awesome Pavvakkai Pitla.
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 a afternoons when I have just landed up their house with an assumption of being fed and have always been satisfied.
Some other South Indian recipes which I have on the blog: