Pitla is a very healthy and popular dish that is prepared in the states of Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. Pavakkai Pitlai or Pavarkaai pitlai which is a traditional south Indian dish is commonly prepared in the state of Tamil Nadu. It is a very healthy dish with bitter melon (known as Karela in Hindi, Pavakkai in Tamil and Kakarakaaya in Telugu) and consumes little oil.
This is a dish that is prepared at least once a week in most of the households in South India as Karela or bitter gourd is considered to be one of the healthiest vegetables that offers various health benefits. Pavakkai Pitla or Bitter gourd in spicy gravy is a very delicious and nutritious dish considering the high medicinal and nutritional values of the bitter melon.
This dish is prepared by cooking the bitter melon or bitter gourd in a tangy tamarind lentil gravy and served with hot rice as a side dish. The bitter melon is usually bitter but in this dish the bitterness is reduced by adding the tamarind juice, dal and coconut to make it a mouth watering side dish. The dish is liked by many even to those who don’t like bitter gourd as they are so deliciously cooked with other spices that mellows down the bitterness.
Regular consumption of the bitter gourd or karela is very good for health as it has lots of nutrients and valued for its high medicinal properties. Its benefits are said to range from helping diabetics in reducing blood sugar to increasing blood circulation which in turn improves metabolism. It also helps in lowering blood pressure and is even said to improve eyesight.
There are different variations in making the Pitlai also using eggplant or brinjal, drumstick, unripe tomatoes etc and in few households where kids hate the taste of bitter melon, fried papads or small koftas made of urad dal are added to make it more attractive, delicious and thus neutralizes the bitterness. Pitla is an awesome dish that goes well with rice as it has lots of vegetable, and is served with dahi raiti as a side dish.
Recipe of Pitla:
Dry Coconut - 1 small
Pepper, roasted - 1 tsp
Urad dal, roasted - 1
Channa dal, roasted - 2 tbsp
Tamind juice - ¼ cup
Bitter gourd , slices - 250 gms
Beans, slices - 100 gms
Potato - 2 large
Tur Dal - ½ cup
Mustard seeds - ¼ tsp
Curry leaves - few sprigs
Peanuts for tempering - 2 tbsp
Oil for tempering - 2 tbsp
Hing - pinch
Serve hot with plain rice as a side dish along with raita. Although bitter, this amazing Pavakkai Pitlai dish is touted to be a fantastic health food.
Do try eating some amount of Karela in the form of vegetable, curry or fries in your diets to get all the benefits.
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Bitter Melon, also known as Balsam pear is a truly unique and bitter ingredient that is not well known in the United States. Used widely in Indian cuisine and many people peel off the upper skin to reduce the bitterness but this bitterness is very good for health as recently few researches have stated that it stimulates the production of insulin and recommends a regular intake of this vegetable.
Bitter gourd is an excellent source of vitamin B1, B2, B3, C, magnesium, folic acid, zinc, phosphorous, manganese, and has high dietary fiber. It is used in treating diabetics and is also a blood purifier. Cooked in combination with brown chick peas and tur dal makes it very tasty and reduces the bitterness.
Normally in authentic recipe, brown chick peas are used although you can also add any bean seed of your choice. The consistency of this dish should be thicker than sambar. A very tasty and healthy accompaniment with rice!
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