Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pahakai Pitla Kozhambu.....

A complicated sounding name essentially meaning bitter gourd in tamarind lentil gravy. This dish from southern Indian cuisine resembles dhal more than curry and is served over rice with a dry curry on the side.Bitter gourd as the name suggests is a vegetable that is bitter, and looks like cucumber with a splotchy skin. Although bitter, this amazing vegetable is touted to be a fantastic health food. Its benefits are said to range from helping diabetics in reducing blood sugar to increasing blood circulation which in turn improves metabolism. It also helps in lowering blood pressure and is even said to improve eyesight.  

This vegetable, because of its bitterness, usually gets a bad reputation and you hear people claiming that they never touch this vegetable. But with the right spices and in the right dish, this vegetable can actually turn out very tasty. One such dish is the pahakai pitla kozhumbu which is a traditional south Indian dish that brilliantly incorporates this vegetable along with a mixture of spices in a manner that makes the most vehement critic of this vegetable, at the very least, rethink their criticism. 





Ingredients and method to make Pahakai Pitlai kozhumbu
3/4 cup Split Pigeon peas/tur dhal pressure cooked in 1 cup of water
small lime sized tamarind soaked in water and juice extracted (yielded about 2 1/4 cups of tamarind juice)
5 small bittergourd skinned, de-seeded and cut into thin 1/4 inch slices (yielded about 1/1/2 cups sliced gourd) (see notes)
salt to taste

Dry roast and grind
4 tsp split yellow chick peas/ chana dhal
2 tsp split black gram lentil/ udad dhal
3 tsp coriander seeds/ dhania
4 dry red chillies (or according to taste)

3/4 tsp cumin seeds (jeera) (optional)
1/4 tsp whole black pepper (optional)
2 tbsp freshly grated coconut (or frozen coconut thawed to room temperature) (optional)

seasoning
2 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
pinch of asafoetida (hing)(optional)

Pressure cook the lentils/ dhal in water until soft and mushy.Usually takes me 3 whistles in the pressure cooker. If using a stove top cook the lentils in sufficient water until the lentils are soft and mushy and keep aside.

Soak tamarind in water, enough to submerge the tamarind, for about 20 to 30 mins. In a hurry I soak the tamarind in enough water and heat it in the microwave for about 15 to 20 seconds.  Press the tamarind and extract the juice and strain and pour the juice in another bowl. Repeat the process with the tamarind again to extract all the juice from it. Discard the pulp and seeds of the tamarind.

Dry roast  each of the spices separately mentioned in dry roast and grind EXCEPT coconut. Powder together in the spice grinder until fairly fine, then add coconut (if using) and a few spoons of water and grind again to a fine paste. This way the lentils grind finely and will blend well with the kozhumbu

Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed pan, add mustard seeds to it, when the mustard seeds start spluttering add asafoetida.

Then add the tamarind juice and the sliced bitter gourd and salt to taste and allow it to boil until the bitter gourd is cooked and the tamarind loses its raw smell.

Add the cooked and mushed up lentils to this, mix well. Then add the coconut lentil paste to this and mix well.

Adjust water to achieve required consistency. Adjust salt to taste.

Bring to a boil and simmer for a minute or two. Serve hot with plain rice and dry curry on side or just with rice and appalam/ popadums

Serves approximately 4


Notes

While selecting bitter gourd select younger ones as the bitterness of the vegetable increases as it ripens. The vegetable has to be firm all over and a dark green with no yellowing.

When skinning bitter gourd use a potato peeler to remove the skin lightly, do not remove it all the way through until you get to the white part, leave a little green on the veggie.

After skinning it, cut it in half lengthwise and remove seeds and then proceed with slicing it.

I have made this numerous times without the coconut and it tastes just as good so the coconut is completely optional. 

This traditional dish is off to My Legume Love Affair-Ninth helping being hosted by Laurie originally started by Susan

48 comments :

Poornima Nair said...

Wonderful curry Usha, looks delicious...I have a similar one in my blog too.

indosungod said...

Most recipes with bittergourd I know are with tamarind. This is delicious one Usha. I actually like bitter gourd, would give this a try when I get a few good ones.

Sara said...

I really like the flavor of tamarind, I'm glad to have a recipe to use it in now!

Varsha Vipins said...

My hubby is just nuts abt this veggie..such a phenomenal dish Usha..:)

Ann said...

Haven't tried with lentiles yet..intersting..next time i have to check this one..looks thick and spicy

Suma Rajesh said...

woo this looks great..just need a bowl of hot steamed rice..yummmmm

Curry Leaf said...

I too make this,the post and the pic are too tempting for me to make this tomorrow.Love it Usha

Paru ... said...

Yumm Yumm Usha..Luv the flavour of Bitter guard.. Curry looks exotic..

Soma said...

I have heard about bitter gourd in tamarind.. but the first tiem i came across a recipe. i was always told that sour makes it more bitter. nice addition od lentils too.

Indhu said...

yummy recipe... I remember my mom making kathirikkai pitla... and there would be a mad rush for that.. even from people who don't like brinjal - yours truly :)

I was looking for an authentic pitla recipe... thanks :)

Mangala Bhat said...

wow ! new recipe to me ...:) recipe name is wonderful :)

Priya said...

I love bittergourd in kuzhambu, urs seems quite different from mine...gravy looks excellent Usha..

A_and_N said...

I love pawakkai :) And pitla is a new fave!

Cham said...

Love pavakai pitlai, it has been such a long time i made it. Looks simply delicous!

Smitha said...

I loive bittergourd. Have never tried a curry with it. Would love to try it .

Superchef said...

i love pavakai pitla!! but so far not made it..i generally make a stir fry with bittergourd..nice and spicy! :)

Cynthia said...

Now this sounds like a powerhouse! Bitter and sour together. You know I've bookmarked this.

aquadaze said...

looks very nice Usha..I dont make bittergourd too much..but will try this the next time I get it!

Deepa Hari said...

Wow...i too made bitter gourd kozhambu today...will post it soon...liked ur version Usha...looks delicious.

rekhas kitchen said...

one of my fav looks so yum yum mmmmm

sowmya said...

looks yumm.. i make it a little thick..and use as a side dish with dal rice..we call it pavakai pitlai..

Jaishree said...

Pahakai pitla is my husband's fav usha.. I dont like much..Yours Looks perfect & delicious..

Mahimaa's kitchen said...

i love pavakai pitlai.. i do it the same way too. u know what, i thought of posting this recipe today.. but then changed my mind :)

tempting bowl of sambar that is.

Sharmila said...

I like bitter gourd ... but never made it with tamarind. In North India people do use amchur with it. Will try this recipe. :-)

Shama Nagarajan said...

have once tried this...wow yummy....your curry reminds me to make it soon...lovely

Chitra said...

We too make it the same way usha, i love this soooooooo much:)urs has come out well!!

Akal's Saappadu said...

your kozhambu sounds delicious; never knew that there's a preparation with bitter gourd; will try this !

5 Star Foodie said...

Yum! Looks delicious!

Happy cook said...

I have never had this curry it sounds really delicous.

Gita's Kitchen said...

I have heard about this dish though I have never tasted or tried it... looks yummy with the dhals...may be I can sneak in pavakai along with the lentil to my hubby who never touches pavakai ;)

AnuSriram said...

Looks lovely! Its a wonderful recipe! My MIL used to make this...

Laavanya said...

I love pavakai - but my husband doesn't and i've been meaning to try this pitlai on him sometime.

Jaya said...

Usha,
the curry looks so yum, and I am sure my folks at home will like eating it...
hugs and smiles

Anu said...

I usually prepare pitla using beans/beetroot. Never tried with pahakai. Nice to see a yummy recipe with "bittttter" gourd :)

Priya Sriram said...

Yummy entry Usha... Always a fan of spicy curries! :)

Vaishali said...

Karela pitlai is a huge favorite in our home. Yours looks lovely, Usha.

Thooya said...

YUmmm

Vibaas said...

looks so yummy. i love this. this is the only way i eat pavakkai.

Purva Desai said...

This is new for me, but sounds delicious

Madhumathi said...

I'm one among the group who hate bittergourd.We make pavakai pitlai at home but i never touch it :)
but after reading your this post..I have made up my mind to try this out :)

prjausha said...

i hate karela..but this recipe looks nice

Girl Japan said...

I have been having the hardest time finding chick peas, but you know what... I was I was coming over for dinner... "wink"

Meenal Mehta said...

Usha ,

love the recipe :)

-Meenal

spicencook said...

Just love this with the HOT steamed rice..... yummy.... specially on a rainy day..... wow....!!!!

Vrinda said...

New to me..I lov karela in any form..

Vegetarian Medley said...

Lovely curry Usha, looks delicious!!!

Dibs said...

This is a favourite! Yum Yum. I just received the snaps and recipe from mom, and will be publishing her version soon!

Anonymous said...

It was rather interesting for me to read that post. Thanx for it. I like such themes and anything connected to this matter. I would like to read a bit more on that blog soon.

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