Pavakka Pitla / Pitlah / Pitlai / Parikka Pitlah / South Indian style Bittergourd Curry in a tamarind-lentil base
Pavakka pitla is a kind of sambar made using bittergourd and peanuts in a fresh ground masala with coconut base. The spices, coconut and tamarind mask the bitterness to a great extent while adding layers of flavour to the dish. The soft cooked peanuts will make this dish endearing to anyone who doesn’t like karela. The same can be made with brinjal pieces instead of bittergourd.
As a kid, I was allowed to pick out the bittergourd slices and eat the peanuts in the sambar alone.
I’ve been growing this variety of baby bitter gourd in my kitchen garden. These are not more than 2 inches long if plucked on time, before they turn mature. I’m often asked how to reduce the bitterness in bitter gourd, ironic as it may sound 🙂
Marinating the sliced bitter gourd in salt for 1-2 hours, rinsing and then using it, reduces the bitterness considerably. Also, soaking the slices in sour buttermilk overnight removes almost all traces of bitterness.
The difference between a pavakka sambar and pitla is the addition of groundnuts and a freshly ground paste using coconut.
Pavakkai Pitla ( Bitter ground in spicy tamarind lentil gravy)
Total time: 45 minutes