Pavakkai Pitlai | Bittergourd Pitlai Gravy

Pavakkai Pitlai | Bittergourd Pitlai Gravy

Pavakkai pitlai , Bittergourd Gravy

Pavakkai pitlai is a delicious traditional south Indian side dish (kuzhambu/ Kootu ) made with bitter gourd and specially ground masala paste, tamarind extract and toor dal.This recipe is very similar to arachuvitta sambar because of the similarities in the ingredients whereas the proportion of the ingredients varies between these two recipes for example we add more coconut and less dal for Pavakkai pitlai moreover tamarind extract is also less compared to arachuvitta sambar.


Pavakkai (bitter gourd)-1 big (chopped)
Toor dhal-1/2 cup cooked and mashed
Tamarind extract-from small lemon sized tamarind
Mustard seeds-1 tsp
Curry leaves few 
Asafoetida-a pinch
Red chillies- 2 nos
Salt to taste
Oil -2 tbsps

Masala(Dry roast and grind to fine paste)-

Bengal gram dhal-1 tbsp
Urad dhal-1 tbsp
Dhaniya (coriander seeds)-2 tbsps
Grated coconut -2-3 tbsps
Red chillies-6-8 nos
Curry leaves few 
Asafoetida-a pinch


👉Dry roast the ingredients given for masala and grind it to a smooth paste and set aside.

👉Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan saute the chopped bitter gourd until they are 3/4 th done.

👉Pressure cook the dhal along with turmeric powder, asafetida ,1/2 tsp oil and required water for 5-6 whistles, mash it well set aside.

👉Soak lemon sized tamarind in 1 cup water , extract the juice and discard the pulp.

👉Heat oil in a kadai add mustard seeds,red chillies,curry leaves and allow it to crackle.

👉Pour the tamarind extract ,next add turmeric powder and allow it to boil for 5 mins until raw smell goes .

👉Next add cooked dhal mix well.

👉Add masala paste( do not add all the paste at once )and mix well without any lumps.

👉Add required salt.
👉Finally add the sauted bitter gourd and little water if the PITLAI is thick.

👉Allow it to boil for 2 mins .Adjust the consistency according to your taste preference.

👉Garnish and serve hot with  rice,idli,dosa,idiyappam,chapati,poori etc.

Preparation Time-20 mins


✍️We usually add  little extra tamarind extract and chillies to balance the bitterness .
✍️You can add a small piece of jaggery if you like.
✍️In some regions they add karuppu kondakadalai (Brown channa) to the kuzhambu.

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