Thursday, 24 January 2013

Pavakkaya Sambaru/ Sambar prepared with Bitter Gourd

Bitter Melon / Pavaykka is definitely not one of the popular vegetables; you either grow to like its bitterness or you stay away from it. But bitter melon being an excellent source of vitamins, magnesium, folic acid, zinc, phosphorus and manganese, home cooks are always on the look out for recipes to incorporate this nutritious vegetable into our everyday meal.

One such recipe is the Pavaykka Sambaru, which my sis-in-law, Sheena, shared with me. The aromatic spices of Sambar with the tongue-tickling sourness of the tomatoes, overpowers the bitterness, yet leaving it slightly bitter reminding you of the vegetable that is hidden in the Sambar. This one is sure to be a family favourite.
Serves: 6 - 8
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
Measurements are only approximate

To pressure cook
  • 1/2 cup yellow split pigeon pea/ toor dal
  • 2 cups bitter gourd, cut into quarters and thickly sliced (1 medium size)
  • 1 1/2 - 2 medium tomatoes, sliced (adjust to sourness required and bitterness of gourd)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 cup + 1 cup water
  • salt to taste
To temper
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves
  • 3 - 4 dry red chilly
  • 5 - 6 eschallots, sliced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chilly powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek powder
  • 1 tsp asafoetida
  • tamarind paste, as required (optional - add only if the Sambar tastes too bitter)
  • 1/2 - 1 cup water (amount of water required depends on how much water is retained after pressure cooking)
1. Wash and pressure cook split pigeon pea in 1 cup of water with salt. Mash cooked peas very well.
2. Pressure cook bitter gourd, tomatoes and garlic in the remaining 1 cup of water with turmeric powder and salt until cooked well (2 whistles).
3. In a large pan heat oil and splutter mustard seeds, followed by curry leaves, red chilly and eschallots. When eschallots turn medium brown in colour, add spices and stir until fragrant taking care not to burn the spices. Add water with tamarind paste, if required (you may want to add tamarind paste if the bitter gourd is too bitter) and bring to boil. Add mashed peas and cooked vegetables, stir through and bring to boil. Immediately remove from fire.
Serve hot!


  1. My favorite vegie n love you sambhar too.

  2. nice pictures..such a healthy recipe.will try this

  3. first time on your space and happy to follow you visit me in your leisure time..............

  4. first time here and happy to follow you :) do visit my blog when u r free :)

  5. haven't tried this combo..looks appealing,yummy way to have pavakka:)

  6. Wow thats a delicious sambar dear :)

  7. I hate bittergroud but love ur sambar & the pics...:-) :-)


  8. Sambar are the best comfort food ever.lovely.

  9. I love bitter gourd, but never tried this combination before. Looks absolutely delicious!!!

  10. I had no idea that one can make sambar with bitter gourd!!
    Wonderful recipe and a great blog! Thanks!