Pavakai Pitlai

Pavakai pitlai is a popular Tamil Nadu dish prepared by cooking bitter gourd with spices in a coconut based gravy. It goes well with plain rice and ghee.


  • 1 teaspoon Oil
  • 100 grams Pavakkai (Bittergourd), chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon Turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon Gram dal / kadalai paruppu
  • 1/4 cup Toor dal
  • Half a lemon sized Tamarind, soaked in water
  • 1 teaspoon Oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Mustard seeds
  • 1 Dry red chilly
  • A sprig Curry leaves

For paste:

  • 2 tablespoons Coconut scraped
  • 1 pinch Hing
  • 2 Dry red chillies
  • 1 teaspoon Gram dal
  • 1 tablespoon Coriander seeds


  1. Temper it with hot oil with fried dry red chillies, mustard seeds and curry leaves.
  2. Boil bitter gourd in water with salt and turmeric powder. Drain and keep aside.
  3. Pressure cook toor dal and gram dal separately with turmeric powder.
  4. Roast ingredients for paste (except coconut) in oil and grind to paste along with coconut.
  5. Heat tamarind extract in a pan and bring to boil.
  6. Add cooked bittergourd, ground paste and cooked dal. Boil until the curry becomes thick.
  7. Serve Pavakkai pitlai with hot rice and ghee.

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