Wednesday 4 June 2014

Pavakkai Pitlai / Bitter gourd Pitlai / Bitter Gourd Kulambu (Tamil Brahmin Style)

Pavakkai Pitlai / Bitter gourd Pitlai is a very traditional and also a popular South Indian veg gravy prepared using dhal ( lentils) and vegetables.

Today I want to share the bitter gourd pitlai recipe which I learnt from my brahmin friend Latha balaji. Though it sounds very new; the taste was very nice and healthy too. One special thing about this recipe is you will feel the bitterness of the bitter gourd and even my son ate without any complain!

Try this and give your feed back.


Bitter gourd - 1 big

Black channa - ¼ cup
Tuvar / toor dhal / thuvaram paruppu - ½ cup
Tamarind - small gooseberry sized ball

To dry roast and grind:

Red chillies - 4
Coriander seeds - 1 tbsp

Urad dhal - 1 tbsp
Bengal gram dhal - 2 tsp
Coconut - 
½ cup

For Seasoning:

Oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds - 
Red chillies - 2
Curry leaves - 1 sprig


Pre - Preparations:

Take a pan, heat a tsp of oil and fry red chillies, coriander seeds and bengal gram dhal till it turns golden brown.

After that add coconut and fry; switch of the gas.

Once it cools down; grind it into smooth paste using water and keep aside.

Soak black channa overnight and pressure cook till it becomes soft and keep aside.

Pressure cook the thuvar / toor dhal  till it becomes soft and keep aside.

Wash and peel the skin (don't peel the skin completely; take out only the outer thick layer).

Slit it into two and remove the seeds; then chop into bite sized pieces and keep aside.

Soak the tamarind in ½ cup of water.  Extract the juice and keep aside.

Heat oil in a kadai, season it with mustard seeds, once it splutters add fenugreek seeds, curry leaves,  hing / asafoetida and red chillies.After that add chopped bitter gourd and fry in medium flame.

Once the colour changes add cooked black channa and tamarind water.

Once the water starts boiling add the ground paste and cooked toor dhal, salt and mix well.

Close the pan and allow to cook till the raw smell of the gravy goes and becomes thick in consistency.

Serve hot with rice paired with any poriyal / veg stir fry and pappad!


You can adjust the tamarind, salt, red chilli amount according to your taste bud.

Instead of black channa you can add channa dhal or peanuts to prepare this dish.

You can also prepare this dish only with toor dhal / thuvaram paruppu.


  1. Very delicious pitlai, makes me hungry

  2. yummy pitlai looks so tempting Poornima, my favourite curry :)

  3. Looks so yummy, never try this before bt now surely try soon. thnx for sharing...

  4. I seldom eat bitter gourd but this is tempting me to try soon....looks very yummy

  5. wow nice healthy curry.................

  6. Lovely curry... Though have nvr tried this, have heard this...

  7. Traditional dish always a comfort food

  8. Pavakkai pitlai looks fresh, with aromatic masalas. Never thought bittergourd would be playing around this wonderful curry :)

  9. Always love traditional foods

  10. Tasty curry i like the mild bitterness in curries. Superb curry.

  11. Usually I will not cook bitter gourd .....but this recipe tempting me to try......


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