Definitely an acquired taste, bitter gourd (Latin Momordica charantia) is also called Balsam pear or bitter melon. Young immature bitter gourds are the best for cooking: the skin is bright green in color, the flesh inside is white, and the seeds are small and tender.Bitter gourd contains vitamin A, B1, B2, and C. It also contains minerals like calcium, phosphorous, iron, copper and potassium.It helps purify blood tissue, enhances digestion, and stimulates the liver.
When I was a small girl, I used to watch my grandfather have his daily dose of this bitter vegetable and wonder why he would even want to try?? He was a diabetic, but a very strict person in his diet. You could not tempt him to eat anything that he did not want to. As a rule, there were no exclusions for any of us, kids to avoid any vegetables. No matter what is cooked, had to partaken by all of us. That way, I would also get a small dash of the pavakkai from my mami, as she had to play with the rules. Nevertheless, I knew she would just dollop a little as she knew how much I hated it. As days went by, I actually started liking this vegetable..Although Madurai appa left us in 1995, I still remember him everytime I eat this vegetable, in whatever form I make it.
Today as I had saved a little after making the Pavakka fry, I decided to make the Pitlae. I am guessing this is the “Pal Brahm” way of doing it, but I can never be too sure. It`s simple and easy and very good for health.
Bitter Gourd – 1/2 de-seeded and chopped.
Tamarind – 11/2 cups of juice extracted.
Toor Dhal – Cooked 1/4 cup
Turmeric – A pinch.
Salt, Hing, Curry Leaves
To Roast in Oil:
Bengal Gram – 2 spoons
Pepper – 8-10
Red Chillis – 3-4.
Coconut – 1/4 cup.
- Take a kadai and pour a spoon of oil, when warm add mustard and allow to splutter.
- Add curry leaves and immediately the chopped bitter-gourd and allow to saute for 3-4 mins.
- We do this to get a better flavour as well as to slightly tone down the bitterness of the bitter-gourd.
- Now add the extracted tamarind juice.
- Add sufficient salt, hing, and turmeric and allow to boil on medium heat.
- Roast the aforementioned ingredients in oil and grind to a smooth paste with water and set aside.
- When the tamarind mixture along with the vegetable is reduced by 1/3`rd, and when you feel that the raw smell is done with, add the ground paste, along with the cooked toor dhal.
- Stir well and allow to boil. Finally add curry leaves and a chopped cilantro.
- Serve Hot with your favourite side dish or Cabbage Poduthuval.