Bitter Guard Pitla - Pavakka Pitla
By : Padma Ranjith‎

Kaypakka/Pavakka pitla is a very famous gravy in the southern part of India. Most of us don't like bitter guard because of its bitter taste. But it is a very healthy vegetable. Pitla is a tangy and spicy gravy which helps to reduce the bitterness of the bitter gourd. This gravy goes well with hot rice, chappathi, curd rice etc. Pitla can also be made using other vegetables like ladies' finger, brinjal or in combinations. Here goes the step by step process for making kaypakka Pitla.


Bitter gourd (cut into very small pieces) - 2 cups

Tamarind - 1 lemon sized ball soaked in hot water

Water- as needed

Salt - to taste

For the masala:

Coconut - 1 cup scrapped

Dry Red chillies - 4-5 nos (Depending on the tolerance level)

Pepper corns - 1 tspn

Channa Daal - 1.5 tblspn

Urad Daal - 1 tblspn

Oil - 1 tblspn

For seasoning:

Mustard seeds - 1/2 tspn

Curry leaves - 1 spring

Coconut - 1 tspn scrapped

Dry Red chillies - 2-3

Oil - 1 tspn


1. Extract the tamarind pulp and keep it aside.
2. Cook Channa daal with required amount of water and salt.
3. Heat a Kadai , add the grated coconut and dry fry till it becomes golden brown. Allow it to cool.
4. In the same kadai, add 1 tblspn of oil.
Once the oil is hot, add 4-5 dry red chillies and fry for 2-3 minutes in low flame. Transfer it to a plate and let it cool down.
5. Add urad daal and pepper corns to the remaining oil. Fry it till the Urad daal becomes light brown in color. Transfer the contents to a plate and allow it to cool.
6. Add the bitter gourd into the remaining oil. Stir fry for a while and let it cook in low flame. Stir occasionally.
7. Meanwhile, grind the masala without adding water. Grind the fried red chilly. Once it is powdered properly, add the remaining fried ingredients and grind.
8. Once the bitter gourd starts becoming brown, add the tamarind paste.
9.Add cooked Channa daal, ground masala and salt. Add 1/2 cup water if the gravy is too thick.
10. Mix well and let it boil. Remove from heat once the masala is cooked and gravy is thickened.
11. Heat 1 tspn of oil in a tadkapan or small kadai.
12. Add mustard seeds. Once it starts spluttering, add dry red chillies.
13. Add 1 tspn of scrapped coconut, fry it till it becomes light brown in color.
14. Add curry leaves and pour it over the pitla.
Pitla is ready.Serve hot with rice or chappathi.

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