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4.67 from 6 votes

Pavakkai pitlai

Pavakkai pitlai is a delicious, most flavorful dish made with bitter gourd along with some fresh ground spices. With quick video and step by step pictures.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Soaking time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 35 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4



  • 12 mini bitter gourds/ midhi pavakkai or 2 long variety
  • 2 tbsp moong dal/ pasi paruppu
  • 2 tbsp chana dal/ kadalai paruppu
  • 1 tsp tamarind
  • 1 tsp sambar powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 cup Coconut grated
  • Salt as needed

To roast and grind

  • 5 red chilli
  • 1 tbsp chana dal
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida
  • 1 tsp Oil

To temper

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard
  • 1 sprig curry leaves


  • Soak 2 tbsp chana dal, 1 tsp tamarind separately in two bowls for 30 mins to 1 hour.
  • Extract tamarind juice. Cut bitter gourd into cubes or thin slices, how ever you like it. (remove seeds)
  • Pressure cook 2 tbsp moong dal, with the soaked chana dal in one container. In another container, add cut bitter gourd with tamarind juice (1 cup), 1 tsp sambar powder, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, 1/2 the salt. For 4 whistles.
  • Meanwhile, heat a pan with 2 tsp oil, add 1 tbsp chana dal, 1 tsp urad dal, 1 tsp coriander seeds, 5 red chillies, 1/8 tsp asafoetida.
  • Roast in medium flame until dals turn crisp and golden. Transfer to a plate to cool down.
  • Grind the roasted items with 1/4 cup grated coconut, 1/2 cup water to a paste.
  • Once the dal and bitter gourd are cooked, transfer both to a heavy bottomed vessel.
  • Adjust salt and water. Bring to boil.
  • Add ground paste and mix well. Adjust water if needed. Bring to boil. Keep stirring often.
  • Switch off the stove. Temper with mustard, curry leaves and mix it with pitlai.



  • Add 1/2 tsp jaggery for extra tasty pitlai. I actually forgot to add.
  • You can marinate chopped bitter gourd with salt to get rid of some bitterness.