Pakarkaai Pitlai | Pavakkai (Bitter Gourd) Pitlai
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Pakarkaai Pitlai (Bitter gourd pitlai) is traditional South Indian rice accompaniment prepared with pavakkai, tamaring extract, toor dal and freshly ground spice paste. Healthy bitter gourd turned into a delicious kuzhambu. I would say pavakkai Pitlai is cousin of Arachuvitta sambar<img draggable="false" data-mce-resize="false" data-mce-placeholder="1" data-wp-emoji="1" class="emoji" alt="😂" src="">
Recipe type: Kuzhambu
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 4
  • Bitter gourd - 1
  • Turmeric powder - ⅛ tsp
  • Toor Dal - ½ cup
  • Chickpea/Channa - ⅓ cup (Soak Channa overnight/ in hot water for 4 hours)
  • Sambar Powder - 1 tsp + ½ tsp
  • Curry Leaves - Few
  • Tamarind - small Lemon size
  • Jaggery - 2 tbsp
  • Asofedtida - generous pinch
  • Salt - as needed
  • For Grinding:
  • Grated Coconut - ¼ cup
  • Red Chillies - 2 ( Adjust according to your spice level)
  • Coriander Seeds - 1 tbsp
  • Channa dal - ½ tbsp
  • For Seasoning:
  • Oil - 1 tsp
  • Mustard Seeds - ¼ tsp
  • Fenugreek - ⅛ tsp
  1. Soak channa dal overnight or 5-6 hours in hot water
  2. Soak toor dal for 1 hour in hot water
  3. Soakthe 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)
  4. 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 paste by adding water and keep it aside
  5. Add turmeric powder and small pieces of tamarind (Adding both removes the bitterness) to bitter gourd and cook it (I microwaved for 5 minutes). After it comes to room temperature squeeze it well and rinse twice
  6. 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 10 - 12 minutes till the raw smell goes off tamarind
  7. Add the cooked toor dal and channa, cook for another 10 - 12 mins till you get the aroma. Add grounded paste and jaggery; cook for 7-8 minutes. switch off garnish with coriander leaves
1. Bitter gourd can be cooked in the pitalai pan instead of microwaving separately
2. Curry powder can be grind with coconut and made into a paste instead of making fresh paste for pitalai
3. Channa and toor dal can also be cooked together
4. Recently I started cooking this in instant pot. Cook toor dal and channa together in manual mode, high temperature for 25 minutes. After the pressure relases naturally follow all other steps in sauté mode
5. Adjust the chickpea according to your taste
6. Kala channa can be used instead of chickpea
Recipe by Traditionally Modern Food at