Since my childhood, I have an aversion towards pavakkai and my mom never cooked it. After marriage also I never turned towards this vegetable. I found this vegetable in some form or the other in the lunch box of one of my colleagues in the computer science department. One day, I asked her.” Are you a sugar patient? Why do you take pavakkai almost every day? She quietly took one spoon of rice mixed with pavakkai kuzhambu and gave it to me. I tasted it and I didn’t find much bitterness, but the taste of the rice never left my tongue .I asked her the recipe. She told me that the way we cook the curry is very important to take away the bitterness from the curry. The same evening I got bittergourd from the market and made the curry next day. Even my younger daughter liked it very much. From that day, I regularly bought bitter gourds and tried cooking in different ways. My favorite is chettinad pavakkai masala which can be mixed with rice as well. I usually add a teaspoon full of jaggery at the end to this curry. The sweetness along with bitterness doubles the taste of the curry. I almost believe that there is no other vegetable to beat the taste of pavakkai if cooked properly. When diabetic people are at home jaggery can be avoided.
Tricks to reduce the bitter taste in bitter gourd or pavakkai curries
While buying bittergourds don’t go for dark green ones. They will be very bitter. Remove some of the sharp green portions from the outer skin. Always use little bit extra oil for pavakkai masala than usual. Keeping the stove in slow fire and cook the pavakkai pieces in the oil itself. For 2 medium sized pavakkai, 2 table spoons of oil is enough
Small onion-30 or big onion 2
Sambar powder-2 teaspoons
Tamarind juice-1/2 teaspoon
Mince the onions and tomatoes in a chopper or cut the onions and garlic into very small pieces. Rotate the tomatoes once in a mixie to crush them. Cut the pavakkai also into small pieces.
Keep the kadai in the stove. In two table spoons of oil season the curry with 1 teaspoon of mustard, 1 spoon small jeera and curry leaves. After the mustard seeds splitter, add the minced onions, garlic and sauté till they turn transparent. Now add the pavakkai pieces and keep the stove in medium flame and cook the pieces without adding water. When you feel that the pieces are almost cooked add the crushed tomatoes sambar powder and the required salt and the tamarind juice. Let this cook for 5 more minutes .Now add 2 teaspoons jaggery and keep the stove in sim. You will notice oil separating. Now switch off the stove. If desired it can be garnished with coriander leaves.