Pakarkaai Pitlai

Pavakkai Pitlai

Pakarkaai Pitlai (Bitter gourd pitlai) is yet another recipe from my Amma’s cook book. As a child, I always hated Bitter gourd, though its a healthy vegetable. If I see Bitter gourd in fridge, I go crazy, even without tasting it. I will say a big no. I always want some other dish when bitter gourd is cooked at home. One day I was with Amma in the kitchen when she was preparing pitlai. I saw her adding a tsp of jaggery to the dish. I was so happy seeing jaggery, and tasted it that day. After tasting the dish, I liked it, and surprisingly didn’t feel the bitterness. From that day onwards I started eating Pitali. Later when I started cooking, I realized even without Jaggery Pitalai tastes good. But i started liking the dish because of jaggery, so I add it even now 🙂

Pakarkaai Pitlai

Preparation Time : 10 mins | Soaking time : 4 hours |Cooking Time : 30 mins

Category:Rice Accompaniments

Ingredients :

Bitter gourd – 1

Turmeric powder – 1/8 tsp

Toor Dal – 1/2 cup

Chickpea/Channa – 1/3 cup (Soak Channa overnight/ in hot water for 4 hours)

Sambar Powder – 1 tsp

Curry Leaves – Few

Tamarind –  small Lemon size

Jaggery – 1 tsp

Asofedtida – generous pinch

Salt – as needed

For Grinding:

Grated Coconut – 1/4 cup

Red Chillies – 2 ( Adjust according to your spice level)

Coriander Seeds – 1 tbsp

Channa dal – 1/2 tbsp

For Seasoning:

Oil – 1 tsp

Mustard Seeds – 1/4 tsp

Fenugreek – 1/8 tsp



  • Soak the tamarind in warm water for 10  -15 minutes  and extract the pulp. Pressure cook the toor dal and channa, and keep it aside. (To save time I generally cook both together)
  • Dry roast red chillies, coriander seeds and channa dal till they turn golden brown color, and switch off. After it comes to room temperature add coconut and grind everything to a fine paste by adding water and keep it aside


  • Add turmeric powder and small pieces of tamrind (Adding both removes the bitterness) to bitter gourd and cook it (I microwaved for 5 minutes). Strain them


  • Add oil to the pan, when the Oil is hot add mustard seed and fenugreek. let it splutter. Add the cooked bitter gourd and saute for 3-4 mins. Add tamarind extract, Sambar powder, hing, turmeric powder and salt and allow it to boil for 5 minutes till the raw smell goes off tamarind


  • Add the cooked toor dal and channa, cook for 5-10 mins till you get the aroma. Add grounded paste and jaggery. When Bitter gourd  Pitlai starts boiling, switch off the flame


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33 thoughts on “Pakarkaai Pitlai

  1. Aviya | Traditionally Modern Food March 13, 2015 at 5:00 PM Reply

    […] Pavakkai Pitalai […]

  2. Chitra Jagadish July 19, 2014 at 4:53 PM Reply

    Vidya prepared this for lunch today oh my it was delicious…thanx a ton for this wonderful recipe vidya. …

  3. swathiiyer July 4, 2014 at 11:00 PM Reply

    Delicious I too love pavakkai pitala, very nice

  4. Fabgrandma July 4, 2014 at 4:09 PM Reply

    I am not familiar with Bitter Gourd, so I have no idea what this would taste like.

  5. Loretta July 4, 2014 at 2:21 PM Reply

    This looks wonderful, I can actually taste all the different flavors just reading through the ingredients. Love jaggrey 🙂

  6. Corina July 4, 2014 at 8:48 AM Reply

    I’ve never tried bitter gourd but I love the tamarind in this dish and it sounds really tasty.

  7. Chitra Jagadish July 4, 2014 at 8:47 AM Reply

    I love to learn differnt varieties using bittergourd as its healthy and this one looks perfect. wil try asap and let you know…this is must try for me…

  8. lapetitepaniere July 4, 2014 at 3:01 AM Reply

    Lovely dish Vidya 🙂

  9. philosophoenix July 3, 2014 at 11:58 PM Reply

    Thank you for including this wonderful recipe. Just the pictures would have been fabulous, but now I can make it for myself.

  10. Lori July 3, 2014 at 11:43 PM Reply

    You always remind me that there is a world of food out there that I know nothing about! Love it!

  11. Jeanne Melanson July 3, 2014 at 11:32 PM Reply

    Oh my, I’ve never even heard of bitter gourd. I didn’t know you could eat gourds! If I could find all of these ingredients, I would try this, but I’ll never find them in the rural area that I live in. Too bad. Thank you for sharing, though. I will add this to my Pinterest “Indian Food” board. Peace!

  12. Blake Devereaux July 3, 2014 at 11:31 PM Reply

    Interesting recipe

  13. Ami@NaiveCookCooks July 3, 2014 at 10:04 PM Reply

    I love eating bitter gourd but never had it this way!! Going to try it soon!

  14. apuginthekitchen July 3, 2014 at 7:11 PM Reply

    ‘ve never had bitter gourd but I do love bitter greens like rappini, mustard greens etc.. I bet I would like it. Amazing what a tsp of jaggery does, guess it’s like that song from about the spoonful of sugar helping the medicine go down.

    • Traditionally Modern Food July 3, 2014 at 8:41 PM Reply

      Try them Suzanne, if you like bitterness I am sure you will like bitter gourd. Jaggery is palm sugar, you can use brown sugar instead

  15. food passion and love July 3, 2014 at 6:44 PM Reply

    Looks delicious!I didnt know such a dish could be made outa bitter gourd!!

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