Bittergourd – definitely not well liked by most children and even adults. Thanks to its bitter taste. I am also not a great fan of this vegetable, but have grown to like its taste over the years. Bittergourd is a excellent source of vitamins B1, B2, and B3, C, magnesium, folic acid, zinc, phosphorus, manganese, and has high dietary fiber. It is also rich in iron. A great vegetable for the diabetics. Keeping all its health benefits in mind I make sure to have it atleast once in 10 days.
Pavakkai Pitali, another Palakkad Special. Pavakkai (the Malayalam and Tamil name for bitter gourd) Pitlai is a nutritious, curry that integrates a lot of flavors. The taste of ground spices, tangy tamarind and sweet jaggery compensates for the bitterness of the gourd. So here’s presenting Pavakkai Pitlai:
Serves 2 - 3
1. Bitter gourd – 1 big
2. Tamarind – Lemon sized ball
3. Tuar Dal – 3 tblsps
4. Jaggery – 1 tblsp
5. Turmeric Powder – ½ tsp
To be roasted and ground
1. Asfoetida – small piece
2. Channa Dal – 1 tsp
3. Black pepper – ¼ tsp
4. Dried Red Chillies – 3- 4
5. Grated Coconut – ½ cup
1. Coconut Oil – 1 tsp
2. Mustard Seeds – 1 tsp
3. Curry leaves – a few
Soak tamarind in hot water for about 10 mins. Squeeze and extract tamarind juice. Keep aside. Pressure cook tuar dal. Once cooked mash it well and keep aside. Cut bitter gourd into small pieces. In a pan, add a tsp of oil and fry the bitter gourd pieces with a little salt for about 5 – 7 mins. (This is done to diminish the bitterness of the gourd). In a vessel pour the tamarind extract; add the fried bitter gourd pieces, turmeric powder, salt and jaggery. Allow this to boil till the raw smell of tamarind goes and the vegetable is cooked.
For the spice paste:
Heat a tsp of oil, add asfoetida, allow it to fry, then add channa dal fry for a minute then add the pepper and finally add the chillies. Fry this till the Channa dal turns a nice golden color. Take this out in a plate. Fry the grated coconut for a few mins. Grind the spices with coconut to a smooth paste by adding little water.
Once the vegetable is cooked add the mashed dal and stir well. Bring to boil. Then add the spice paste and allow to boil for about 2 mins. Add water by checking for consistency. Remove from heat.
Heat a tsp of coconut oil. Add mustard seeds. Once the seed start spluttering pour it on top of the Pitlai and garnish with curry leaves.
Nutritious Pavakkai Pitalai is ready. Goes well with steaming hot rice and some vegetable curry. Also try it as an accompaniment with Idly, Dosa or even Adai.
(Note: Pitla requires a little extra tamarind, and Chillies to even out the bitterness of the gourd when compared to the regular Sambar)