Thursday, 25 June 2015

Pavakka Sambaar ( Bitter Gourd Sambaar)

Sambaar is a staple dish of South indian states especially Tamilnadu and Kerala. It is an excellent combination for Idli, Dosa, Vada etc. apart from Rice for which its the default combination :)

The uniqueness of Sambaar is that it is one of the rare dishes that contains 5 of the 6 tastes that human beings can feel - Sweet, Spicy, Sour, Bitter and Salty. 
The sixth taste is Astringent. 

For details refer

There are different types of Sambaar depending upon the vegetables used to make them. We had earlier written about Onion sambaar (Click Here to view that post) and Vegetable Sambaar (Click here to view that post).

This sambaar is one made with Bitter Gourd or Pavakka as one of the main ingredients. This Sambaar is mostly prepared in Tamilnadu...

Ingredients of Pavakka Sambaar:

  • Bitter Guard-2 nos
  • Shallots- 20-25 nos
  • Jaggrey- 1 table spoon
  • Tomatoes - 2 nos
  • Corriander leaves-2-3 springs
  • Red chilly flakes-1/4 teaspoon
  • Green chilies - 2 nos.
  • Curry leaves - 6-8 Nos.
  • Turmeric powder-1/2 teaspoon
  • Chilly powder-1/2 teaspoon
  • Tamarind - lemon size
  • Sambar powder- 2 teaspoons
  • Asafoetida (kayapodi\ hing\ perunkayam) -1/4 teaspoon
  • Dry red chillies-2-3
  • Salt to taste


Put the dal into a cooker, add 2 glasses of water (approximately 300-350 ml) and cook well.
Clean and soak the tamarind into 50 ml of warm water.
Normal water can also be used to soak tamarind but the advantage with warm water is that helps in complete extraction of the tamarind pulp in less time. Keep the soaked tamarind aside.

Chop the Bitter Guard into small semicircular pieces as shown. Cut the green chillies vertical. Chop and add shallots into it.

Add three glasses of water (approximately 500 ml). Add chilly powder, turmeric powder, red chilly flakes and salt to taste and cook it in low flame. Once these vegetables - esp. bitter gourd is cooked, put the chopped tomatoes into the it.

After the tomatoes are half  cooked, add the cooked dal into it and mix thoroughly.

Extract tamarind pulp from the soaked tamarind by squeezing it with your hands. Pour the extracted tamarind pulp into the cooked Bitter Gourd-dal mixture.

Add Jaggrey into the mixture. 
At last put the sambaar powder, Asafoetida etc. Add salt to taste. Allow it to boil in low flame. Keep aside.Check for consistency. 
In case this looks too thick, pour additional water.

Sambaar must NOT be a semisolid. It must be free flowing (through not as free flowing as water)


Take a small frying pan and pour 2 tablespoons of oil into it. Once the oil is hot, put one teaspoon of mustard. 
Wait till  the mustard splutters. 
Immediately after all the mustard splutters, add the broken red chillies ,curry leaves into it and mix it with the mustard for it to get fried.
Pour the contents of the pan with the Bitter Gourd - dal mix that was kept aside. Mix thoroughly.You can add corriander leaves at the end if required...

Sambaar is ready…

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