Paharkai pitlai / Bitter gourd gravy- Tamilnadu style

When I made this for the first time a couple of years ago , I did not like the taste. Somehow the south indian spices did not seem to work well the bitter bittergourds!!I had made a similar thing with brinjals before, which tasted great , but it just did not work with bittergourd. I was a bad cook then after all!!!But anyway, I never excluded bittergourd from my diet. And when I think about the nutritional and health benefits of it, I simply can’t avoid it. I make stuffed curries or mix them in spices to shield the bitter taste. Though I have never had an aversion for bitter taste, infact I always love bittergourd.

You can view here the nutritional and health benefits of the bittergourd.

I have tried number of ways to reduce the bitterness of the bittergourd. And the method which has worked really well for me is to mix the chopped bittergourd slices in turmeric powder and salt atleast for half an hour and then squeeze out the water from them.

After a long time, I decided to try the pitlai recipe again simply because I had no other veges in the pantry and I was planning a simple south indian menu for lunch. It came out really well and tasted good with rice and tomato rasam. I am sure now paharkai pitlai is going to be a regular thing at my place.

I am sending this to Yasmeen of healthnut who asks us to send bitter healthy food and join her in the bitter better journey which will help in learning more ways to implement these good foods in everyday cooking.

Print Recipe
Paharkai pitlai / Bitter gourd gravy- Tamilnadu style Yum
For the paste
For the paste
  1. Deseed and cut the bitter gourd in rings . Add some turmeric powder and salt and leave it for an hour.
  2. Roast all the ingredients stated under "for the paste" (except the tamarind )in half a teaspoon of sesame oil till they turn golden brown.Switch off the flame and then add the tamarind. Cool and grind this to a fine paste adding few drops of water.
  3. Now heat 2-3 teaspoon of oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds, udid dal and channa dal and the curry leaves. Squeeze out water from the bittergourd.Add this to the pan and saute till they turn golden brown.Now add the ground paste. Pour 2 glasses of water. Add sambar powder if you want to. Add salt.Heat this till the gravy gets slightly thicker. Now add the cooked tuvar dal. Leave on flame for further 10 minutes. Add some jaggery and mix well.
  4. Toast the grated coconut in some oil till it turns brown. Add it to the gravy. This is optional. I sometime make it without the coconut and it does not create much difference in the taste.
  5. Serve with hot rice.
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  1. Shama Nagarajan

    i tried this last week..we enjoyed…delicious recipe..perfect for the event

  2. This was my friday’s lunch..I lovee pitlai a lot.we make it a bit different..will post it soon :)Will try ur version also….

  3. woww…looks delicious 🙂

  4. Priya Narasimhan

    looks delicious..i too made this last week..nice idea to reduce the bitterness..will try next time..

  5. My way of making is a bit different from this and luckily I get bittergourds which are surprisingly not so bitter at all.

  6. wow bitter gourd gravy , for me

  7. Preeti Kashyap

    Never made this…shd try!

  8. Ruchikacooks

    Thank you :)Pitlai is my fav too, but I make it with brinjals..Bitter gourd is bitter no

  9. Gravy looks delicious and yummy…

  10. Bittergaurd is one of the dish i am always away from.But this looks so tempting.

  11. yummy curry with my fav veggie…

  12. Thanks sowmya for dropping by, you have a lovely space too.Pitali is new to me, bookmarking it to try.:)

  13. Very nice dish.Clicks are excellent.

  14. pitlai looks delicious. since i have bitter gourd in my pantry i will try it soon..

  15. Priya Suresh

    Yumm!!bittergourd pitlai looks fantastic Sowmya..awesome click..

  16. Trendsetters

    my hubby loves bitterguard..will try it sometime..

  17. Home Cooked Oriya Food

    you have done a great job… looks yum!

  18. nice recipe…we all big fan of it..

  19. Pitlai looks fantastic !

  20. Nayna Kanabar

    Looks delicious and yummy I like bitter gourd curries but with the addition of a little jaggery.

  21. I would like to try this out as there are very less options with bittergourd 🙂 love ur recipes sowmya…they are damn good…love ur rasam post a lot!!TC

  22. My Little Space

    What an interesting recipe! You know, it’s not easy to find a perfect recipe for bitter gourd. Thanks for sharing. Cheers!

  23. I like bittergourd just for the bitter taste. Pitlai looks tasty!

  24. Iam possibly one of the few who actually like bittergourd. Pitlai is something I relish….my version is a little different from this.

  25. I like bitter gourd, gravy looks tasty !!


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