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Pavakkai Pitlai (Bitter Gourd/Karela in Urad Dal Kofta Curry)

Pavakkai_Pitlai_Bitter_Gourd_Karela_Urad_Dal_Kofta_Curry_1 Bitter gourd is good for health and has medicinal value. Normally I prepare a stir fry with bitter gourd by adding plenty of onion and red chilli powder to neutralize bitterness. Pitlai is popular in some parts of Tamil Nadu. Here is Pavakkai Pitlai (Bitter Gourd/Karela in Urad Dal Kofta Curry). Pitlai can also be prepared with eggplant, drumstick, unripe tomato etc.,

As most of the children (including some grown ups) don’t like bitter gourd, fried papads and small urad dal balls (bondas or koftas) are added in this pitlai to make it attractive, tasty and to neutralize bitterness.

Bitter gourd is known as Pavakkai in Tamil and as Karela in Hindi.


  • Bitter gourd chopped – 1 cup
  • Toor dal – ½ cup
  • Urad dal  – ½ cup
  • Brown chick peas – ½ cup
  • Tamarind – big marble size (adjust as per taste)
  • Turmeric powder – ½ tea spoon
  • Red chilli powder – 1 tea spoon Pavakkai_Pitlai_Bitter_Gourd_Karela_Urad_Dal_Kofta_Curry_2
  • Papad any type – 4 no
  • Sugar – 1 table spoon (optional)
  • Oil – for frying small urad dal balls
  • Salt – as per taste
  • Spices for grinding
    • Grated coconut – ½ cup
    • Coriander seeds – 1 table spoon
    • Bengal gram – 1 table spoon
    • Urad dal – ½ tea spoon
    • Red chilli – 4 no
    • Asafetida – generous pinch
    • Curry leaves – 2 to 3 no
  • For seasoning
    • Mustard – ½ tea spoon
    • Urad dal – ½ tea spoon
    • Curry leaves – few


  • Soak chick pea for 6 to 8 hours; soak urad dal for 30 minutes; soak tamarind and extract juice.
  • Boil toor dal, chick pea together nicely.

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  • Grind urad dal to a thick paste.

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  • With few drops of oil, fry ingredients given for grinding (add grated coconut in the last and fry).

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  • Cool and grind the fried items to a coarse paste and keep.

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  • Boil bitter gourd with red chilli powder, turmeric powder, tamarind juice and salt.

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  • When bitter gourd is cooked soft, add boiled toor dal, chick pea, ground masala, sugar and boil for few minutes (add water if necessary).

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  • When all items are cooked well, remove; do the seasoning separately, mix and keep.

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  • Heat a pan with oil; make small balls with ground urad dal paste; deep fry well and remove.

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  • Cut papad into pieces and deep fry.


  • Add fried urad dal balls and papads in pitlai.

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  • Keep for 10 minutes to settle. Now Pavakkai Pitlai (Bitter Gourd/Karela in Urad Dal Kofta Curry) is ready.


  • Serve hot with rice.



  • Deep fried urad dal balls and papads will absorb the water content of pitlai (this helps to some extent to neutralize the bitterness of bitter gourd).
  • It is not necessary to add fried urad dal balls and papads in pitlai using other vegetables.

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Priya July 28, 2010, 3:18 pm

    I made pavakai yesterday…ur petlai recipe seems to be good,wish to try it..Luv it when u add appalam to petlai

  • Priya July 29, 2010, 2:24 am

    Very delicious pitlai, looks awesome..

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