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Pavakkai Pitlai | Bitter Gourd Coconut Curry | No onion no tomato no garlic recipe

Today's lunch is today's post ;-) call me crazy and that is me. First time I try a curry and it tasted awesome and guess what I just could not resist clicked pictures and vola its on the blog. How I wish my everyday cooking recipes makes an appearance here sigh! If you are someone who has been following me you would very well know that I used to be this Pavakkai hater who turned to be someone who thought ok lets try to cook with pavakkai to someone who loved this bitter veg. I have had few recipes up in this space using pavakkai/ karela/ bitter gourd - like the Pavakkai puli Kuzhambu, Pavakkai Fry and Pavakkai stir fry

Pavakkai Pitlai is a recipe from South India I am not sure from which state it makes its origin. The combination of Thoor dal and coconut paste gives it a feel like a south Indian kootu but trust me the flavors are so unique and this is much more than a simple kootu recipe. If you have people in the household who don't like pavakkai this is a recipe to test and try with them ;-) they will end up loving the recipe just like me. It has a tangy, coconutty flavor with the unique taste of pavakkai not the bitter taste. A great company to white rice, today I had paired this curry with kovakkai poriyal and masala chips.

And not to forget another good reason to post this recipe is beacause its Vegan Thursday a lovely event hosted by my dear Priya Suresh aks, since I missed to post a recipe last week thought will do it today without any excuses. So lets move on to the recipe


Serves ~ 4 generously
Cook time ~ 20 mins
Prep time ~ 20 mins
Serving Suggestion ~ White rice, poriyal and pappad/chips


Toor dal - 1 cup
Water - 2 cups to pressure cook dal
Tamarind pulp - 1 cup (from 1 lemon size ball)
Jaggery - 1/2 inch piece
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Pavakkai/ Karela - 4 medium chopped and quartered
Salt to taste

To Roast & Grind

Oil - 2 tsp
Chana dal - 2 tbsp
Red chili (dry) - 8-10
Curry leaves - 2 spring
Green chili - 4 small
Grated coconut - 1/2 cup

To Season 

Oil - 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Dry red chili - 2 
Curry leaves - 1 spring


  • Pressure cook thoor dal with water and set aside. Soak the tamarind in warm water to estract thick pulp, drain the pulp and set aside
  • In a non stick pan add oil and dry roast all the ingredients one by one starting with chana dal, red chili, curry leaves, green chilli and shredded coconut. Let it cool down and grind it to a paste

  • Chop the pavakkai and quater them soak in salty water for 10 mins. Drain the water and fry them with 2-3 tsp oil until they wilt and the edges turn brown, transfer to a plate to use later
  • In another pan add the tamarind water, stir fried pavakkai, turmeric powder, salt and jaggery and bring it to a boil. Let it cook for 5-6 minutes until the raw smell disappears
  • Now add the pressure cooked dal and mix well, and also add the coconut paste and stir well. Bring it to a boil and let it cook in medium heat for 5 minutes
Serve hot with white rice and pappad

Cooks Wisdom 

- Make sure that the dal is well cooked, I pressure cook my dal for 4 whistles and then mash it with a wooden laddle
- Soaking cut pavakkai in salt water helps to take away the bitterness from the veg
- I had modified the recipe by adding green chilis to add to the heat of the curry
- You can reduce the amount of coconut/ toor dal if you want the curry to be more thin but I prefer it to be medium thick


  1. looks really delicious and a very healthy dal...

  2. We make something similar but dont use jaggery.

  3. if i have to eat bitter gourd, then it s definitely this way Priya. Looks delish.

  4. my favourite way of having bitter gourd

  5. Absolutely delicious curry..looks great...loved the coconut gravy.

  6. Bitter gourd looks simply delicious and healthy.

  7. these look impossible to resist!

  8. Looks ummy Priya,may be one day I will start eating bitter guard :)I love that kovakai fry on the side :)

  9. love pavakkai..dal looks so good and delicious

  10. My all time favourite dish sis, but u know am yet to post it in my space..funny na,makes me drool sis.

  11. looks soooo delicious n tempting..

  12. Delicious and healthy pavakkai pitlai.. Looks inviting da..

  13. this is in my to do list, sounds tooo delicious...can't wait to try it.
    the paltter looks too good da...inviting myself to ur place :)

  14. any recipe with bitter gourd my fav one.pitlai looks delicious akka and parcel the whole platter plz

  15. Healthy recipe...generally i stay away from biter gourds, but have to make a try with this recipe...

  16. I too am a pavakka hater, but love pitlais very much.. I add channa also to this curry :)


Thank you for visiting, I hope you enjoyed my recipes :-) In case you have tried any of the recipes featured here, do let me know in the comment section. For any other queries email me - cooklikepriya(at)

Priya Ranjit

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