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Roasted Small Bitter Gourd and Sambar with Freshly Ground Spices - A hearty meal !!!

Small bitter gourd (Midhi Pavakai in Tamil) is very tender ones which are much tastier and healthier than the big variety.  They are not much bitter and when it is roasted, it tastes awesome.  This kind of bitter gourd is not available in Tamil Nadu throughout the year.  Whenever it is in season we never miss making them often.  There are few dishes we can make with these small bitter gourd similar too big ones.   Roasted small bitter gourd is perfect pair with rice and ghee, dhal, sambar (spicy lentil soup), curd rice...

Another recipe is Sambar made with freshly ground spices which in Tamil called as Arachuvitta sambar. Freshly ground spices when cooked with lentil (dhal) and any greens or vegetables gives a spicy soup is called Sambar. This is generally served with rice and some south Indian delicacies.

Hope you will enjoy this hearty meal.  

Roasted Small Bitter Gourd


Small Bitter gourd - 2 cups
Shallots (really small ones) - 1 cup (remove the skin and slice horizontally to 3 pieces each)
Tomato - 1 small
Tamarind pulp - 1 tbsp (thick)
Chilli powder/ Sambar powder - as needed (We love little spicy)
Curry leaves - few
Oil - 2 tbsp
Salt as needed

For Tempering:

Mustard - 1/4 tsp
Urad dhal - 1/2 tsp


1. Remove the two sharp edges of the bitter gourds. Slit each one horizontally so that it looks like it is slitted. Don't cut fully.  If you find it is too big then cut into two horizontally.
2. Wash them in cold water drain and keep it aside.
3. In a pan boil 1 cup of water add the cleaned bitter gourd.  Cook till done. Don't overcook it.
4. Now heat oil in the pan, add the seasoning ingredients mustard followed by urad dhal.
5. Add the onion and Curry leaves sauté till golden brown.
6. Add the chopped tomato, sauté till they are mushy and oil starts coming out. 
7. Now add the boiled bitter gourd, tamarind pulp, and salt and chilli powder.
8. Now keep the flame in medium to low, sauté them once in a while until roasted well.
9. The roasting part takes time, but I am telling you the waiting time is really worth it :)


While boiling bitter gourd takes care not too over cook it, 1 cup of water is approximate you can add more or less depends on the vegetable it varies, use as required. It is enough if you boil it 3/4th since we are roasting it again.


Arachuvitta(ground spices) Sambar 


Any greens or Vegetables - 2 cups
Shallots - 1 cup (Just remove skin and don't chop them)
Tomato - 1 small (chopped)
Toor dhal - 1/2 cup
Tamarind pulp - 1 1/2  tbsp (small lemon sized ball, mash and extract the pulp)
Gingelly oil f0r tempering - 1 to 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida - 2 pinch
Turmeric powder - 2 pinches
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves - few
Curry leaves - few

For grinding spices:

Coriander seeds - 1 tbsp
Cummin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Pepper - 3 to 4 
Asafoetida - little
Red chillies - 6 to 8
Channa dhal - 2 tbsp
Fenugreek - 1/2 tsp
Coconut - 2 tbsp

Roast (dry fry in a pan) the above ingredients and grind them to paste.


1. Wash the toor dhal; add the turmeric and pressure cooked for 2 to 3 whistles.
2. Remove from the cooker and mash them slightly.
3. Boil the vegetables/greens, shallots and tomato with enough water.
4. Once they are done add the tamarind pulp, ground spice paste, Cooked dhal.
5. Add 1 cup water and let them boil for few more minutes until they are little thick in consistency.(not so thick)
6. Temper them with mustard, asafoetida and curry leaves.
7. Add the chopped coriander leaves.

Vegetable suggestions:

Drumstick, radish, brinjal, mixed vegetables (carrot, beans, and potato), pumpkin, ash gourd, chayote, cauliflower, greens of your choice etc can be made in same way.


1. Don't over cook the vegetables.
2. When adding different vegetables it gives different taste of sambar
3. Add the redchillies and tamarind according to your taste; it depends on your spice and sourness level.  
Enjoy this hearty meal !!!

Hari Chandana P  – (September 22, 2011 at 10:12 AM)  

OMG, mouth watering here.. Absolutely inviting Pavithra.. Love the presentation too.. Awesome !!!!!!!!
Indian Cuisine

Tina  – (September 22, 2011 at 10:20 AM)  

mouthwatering dishes and clicks..

Unknown  – (September 22, 2011 at 10:39 AM)  

OMG...inhda plate pathathum pasikuthu seriously....yummy pavi :)

Ambika  – (September 22, 2011 at 10:53 AM)  

Yum!!! Reminds me so much of my mom :) Where are you located Pavitra, I thought you were in the US?? And if you are in the US, did you really get the "aruvamanai" all the way??? Wow!!

Pavithra Elangovan  – (September 22, 2011 at 10:55 AM)  

@ Ambika I am in US .. these pictures were taken during my India Trip :)

Rama  – (September 22, 2011 at 11:14 AM)  

The dish looks very homely and inviting and would have tasted great. I am big fan of homely comfort foods.


Hamaree Rasoi  – (September 22, 2011 at 11:53 AM)  

Excellent combination of bitter groud and sambar. Looks excellent.

Hamaree Rasoi

Prathima Rao  – (September 22, 2011 at 12:31 PM)  

This makes for such a hearty & healthy meal!!! I have not tasted the small bitter gourds..Must get my hands on them soon..:)
Prathima Rao
Prats Corner

Nithya  – (September 22, 2011 at 1:20 PM)  

Delicious food :)Nothing can be as comforting as this :)

Unknown  – (September 22, 2011 at 1:25 PM)  

I have never tasted baby bitter gourd..They look so cute!! And the roast looks so tempting!! Sambar also looks healthy and delicious..Am drooling over your last click!! Yum!

Reshmi Mahesh  – (September 22, 2011 at 2:28 PM)  

Awesome flavorful the tempting combo and superb clicks...So Indian...:)

GEETHA ACHAL  – (September 22, 2011 at 3:08 PM)  

வாவ்...ரொம்ப ரொம்ப சூப்பராக இருக்கின்றது..அப்படியே அந்த தட்டினை இங்கே அனுப்பி வையுங்க...

எனக்கும் ரொம்ப பிடித்த வறுவல் இது..அம்மா அடிக்கடி வீட்டில் செய்வாங்க...இந்த வந்த பிறகு இப்ப இது எல்லாம் மறந்தே போச்சு...

Alpana  – (September 22, 2011 at 3:51 PM)  

Th meal looks very healthy & inviting......beautiful clicks

schmetterlingwords  – (September 22, 2011 at 4:08 PM)  

"Roasted small bitter gourd is perfect pair with rice and ghee, dhal, sambar (spicy lentil soup), curd rice..." - the description makes me taste a visual treat. Hearty and comforting meal. I wish to grab the plate in the last pic. Lovely recipw with small pavakkais. :)

Anonymous –   – (September 22, 2011 at 4:38 PM)  

It was great reading it..but am afraid this type of veggie we can;t get here:(

Aruna Manikandan  – (September 22, 2011 at 4:55 PM)  

healthy and delicious dishes dear :)
lovely clicks..

Poornima Nair  – (September 22, 2011 at 9:27 PM)  

I have never seen these small bittergourds...the curry looks delicious.

kitchen flavours  – (September 22, 2011 at 9:44 PM)  

I love these small bittergourds! Used to plant these. Your roasted sambar looks really delicious! Bookmarking this! Thank you for sharing!

Shanthi Krishnakumar  – (September 22, 2011 at 10:42 PM)  

This is very traditional and homely food. Hope you enjoyed it while coming to India.. Nice clicks

Unknown  – (September 23, 2011 at 12:04 AM)  

Platter looks very homely. The karela curry is my favorite& it looks yummy. Beautiful clicks too..

Unknown  – (September 23, 2011 at 1:12 AM)  

Simple and comforting meal...yummy curry

Rekha shoban  – (September 23, 2011 at 3:25 AM)  

i never tried this small pavakka....will try it soon...healthy roast n yummy curry!

Priya Suresh  – (September 23, 2011 at 7:18 AM)  

Wow both roasted bittergourd and sambar looks super delicious..simply inviting..

Nalini's Kitchen  – (September 23, 2011 at 7:59 AM)  

Looks delicious...
Healthy platter.Happy following you.

Vidhya  – (September 23, 2011 at 10:54 AM)  

I would love to have that meal anytime.Simply tempting.

Padmajha  – (September 23, 2011 at 10:55 AM)  

We love bittergourd but the small ones are not available here. That platter looks soo tempting:)

soujanya  – (September 23, 2011 at 12:56 PM)  

I luv bittergourd..i never saw cute..
as usual super clicks!!

Julie  – (September 25, 2011 at 2:24 PM)  

Yummy platter.. Lovely recipe of bitter gourd, dear..
Glad to follow you :-))
Visit my space too
Erivum Puliyum

Zareena  – (September 26, 2011 at 2:01 AM)  

mmm... mouth watery clicks. Loved this a lot.

Anonymous –   – (September 26, 2011 at 10:07 PM)  

WOW! What an amazing meal and your flavors and spices are incredible! Thank you SO much....

Your pictures are truly a feast for the eyes!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella  – (September 27, 2011 at 12:42 AM)  

Lovely close ups of the gourds-I don't think I've ever seen these before! :)

Niriekshana  – (September 29, 2011 at 8:06 AM)  

did u prepare this in madurai?????

MyKitchen Flavors-BonAppetit!.  – (October 3, 2011 at 12:58 AM)  

Luvly roasted Bittergourd dear.YUMM clicks too.The recipe is supergood.

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