1 cup toor dal
3 to 4 cups water or enough for cooking
2 cups chopped bitter gourd (bitter gourd is also called bitter melon, pavakai, karela or kayppayka)
For saute and grind:
2 tablespoon Coriander seeds
2 teaspoon channa dal
1 teaspoon urad dal
3 or 4 red chili or taste
1/4 cup shredded coconut
a few drops of oil
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate
A small piece of jaggery (also called gud or vellum)
1 teaspoon oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon urad dal
3 whole red chili
a pinch of asafoetida
Wash and cook the toor dal in water on medium heat.
While the dal is cooking prepare the spices and vegetable.
To prepare the spices, to a pan on medium heat add the coriander seeds, channa dal, urad dal and whole red chili to taste and saute it in a few drops of
oil until it is golden brown and a wonderful aroma is given out when done, keep it aside.
Next saute the shredded coconut in a few drops of oil until it is brown add it to the sauteed spices above and grind it to a coarse paste with a little water.
Next prepare the bitter gourd. Cut the gourd lengthwise in the middle, turn it cut side down and cut it on the side. If the seeds are ripe remove and discard it. If it is not ripe it can be cooked.
After 30 minutes or so when the dal is cooked add the bitter gourd and cook it for 15 minutes or until the gourd is cooked. When the gourd is cooked add the turmeric powder, tamarind concentrate, and the ground spices and salt cook for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes add the jaggery cook for a minute turn the heat of and prepare for seasoning.
For seasoning heat a teaspoon of oil to it add 1/2 teaspoon of mustard seed, urad dal and whole red chili. When the mustard seeds pop add a pinch of asafoetida and add the seasoning to the pitlai.
Serve with rice or any grain.
This is a popular Tamil dish closely resembling sambar with a few variations. My mother used to serve left over pitlai with dosa and idli. Those of us who like bitter gourd enjoy pitlai.
Author: Mallika Viswanathan