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Pavakkai Pitlai

Pitlai is a thicker variation of sambar, prepared with freshly ground masala. Pavakkai pitlai is a tangy and spicy South Indian dish made with bitter gourd and a flavorful blend of spices. It is commonly served with rice or dosa.

Pavakkai Pitlai

Recipe by S Kamala
Recipe rating: N/A
Course: GraviesCuisine: Indian, TamilDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time



Learn how to make the tangy and spicy South Indian dish pavakkai pitlai, a thicker version of sambar with freshly ground masala. Perfect with rice or dosa!


  • Bitter gourd – 3 Nos (Medium size)

  • Thuvar dhal – ½ cup

  • Boiled Peanuts – 1/2 cup

  • Grated Coconut -1/2 cup

  • Tamarind – small lemon size ball

  • Red chillies long – 4 Nos

  • Coriander Seeds – 2 tablespoons

  • Urad dhal-1 teaspoon

  • Bengal gram dhal – 2 tablespoons

  • Black Pepper – 1 teaspoon

  • Jeera (Cumin) -1 teaspoon

  • Turmeric powder – ½ teaspoon

  • salt-2 teaspoon or as per taste

  • Gingelly Oil – 1 tablespoon

  • Mustard – ½ teaspoon

  • Asafoetida powder – 2 pinches

  • Curry leaves – few


  • Slit the bitter gourds and remove the seeds. Cut it into small pieces. (You can also cut it into thin round slices). Sprinkle little salt and mix well. Keep it aside.
  • Soak tamarind in water and squeeze out the juice by adding 3 cups of water little by little.
  • Pressure cook the thuvar dhal till soft.
  • In a kadai put a teaspoon of oil and roast Bengal gram dhal, urad dhal, coriander seeds, pepper, jeera and red chillies one by one and keep it aside.
  • Same kadai add coconut gratings and fry till it changes to light brown. Remove and cool. Mix all the roasted ingredients and fried coconut grating and grind to a fine paste.
  • In a thick bottomed vessel put little oil. Take a handful of bitter gourd pieces and squeeze out all the water and add it. Fry the bitter gourd pieces for a while.
  • Then add the tamarind juice, turmeric powder and salt. Stir well and bring to boil.
  • When it boiled well and the bitter gourd is cooked, add the boiled peanuts, cooked dal, and the ground masala paste and mix well.
  • Let it boil for few more minutes. Season it with mustard, asafoetida and curry leaves.

Recipe Video


  • If you desire, you can add a small piece of jaggery to lessen the bitterness.
  • You can add cooked Kondai kadalai (whole channa) also instead of peanuts.
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