Pavakkai Kozhambu is an excellent dish from the South Indian cuisine made with bitter-gourd cooked in a tangy tamarind sauce and spices. The tanginess and sweetness from tamarind reduces the bitterness of pavakkai to some extent.
Pavakkai is commonly known as bitter gourd or karela. Bitter gourds have a lot of health benefits and generally used in purifying blood tissues and helps in digestion. It is also used in various Indian ayurvedic treatments and used to treat diabetics since they have insulin. Normally many hate eating karela for its bitter taste but this can be reduced if it is cooked in the right method. To reduce the bitter make sure to saute the pavakkai in little oil nicely and then cooked in puli kozhambu. The kozhambu is spiced with spicy homemade sambar powder that enhances the flavor of the kozhambu and thickens the gravy too.
Sambar powder is an excellent mix of spices that is used in every south Indian home as sambar is made almost everyday in south India. It is also commonly called as sambar podi or sambar masala. This south Indian spice mix powder is generally made with few lentils, black pepper, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, dry red chilies etc. This spice powder is generally homemade and can be stored atleast for 6 to 12 months. Sambar powder is one of the most vital ingredients used in various dishes like sambar, rasam, kozhambu and even in fried curries in south India. Sambar powder increases the taste and flavor of the recipes made out of it.
Kozhambu is a common dish in South India and Sri Lankan Tamil cuisines and is primarily made of a variety of dals. Kozhambu is a classic stew based broth made with tamarind, urad (bean) dal, tur dal and can also include vegetables. Kozhambu is a very popular side dish served with rice in southern regions of India especially in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala. There are a number of varieties of kozhambu such as Moor Kozhambu (made with buttermilk), Meen Kozhambu (This is a fish delicacy from Tamil Nadu with tamarind extract as the base), Kozhi Kuzhambu (soft tender chicken in thick spicy gravy base), Vendakai Kozhambu (made with okra) and Melagu Kozhambu etc.
For preparing this wonderful Pavakkai Kozhambu, firstly heat some oil, a little more than usual used for tadka and splutter mustard and red chilli. Add fresh curry leaves, finely chopped onions and garlic (crush them). Sauté for the ingredients for a nice flavor. Now add tomatoes and sauté for a while until they become soft. Add sambar powder and mix well. Follow it with bitter gourd pieces and let the mixture cook till tomatoes are smashed and oil separates. Add little water if it turns too dry.
Once this is cooked, add the extracted tamarind juice (extract in at least 2-3 cups of water). Let it boil and cook for at least 15 minutes. Now add jaggery to this mixture and cook for a minute. The Pavakkai kozhambu is ready to be served. Add this to hot rice with a spoon of ghee that makes and yummy and mouth watering dish.
Pavakkai kozhambu has excellent blend of flavors, bright colors, smell and taste. Most of the south Indian foods are generally tasty, spicy and colorful, moreover it is known for its medicinal values. To try this dish, do click on the below link for detailed recipe:
The health benefits of karela or pavakkai or bitter gourd are lots more greater than of many other vegetables. Karela’s bitter taste is generally attributed to the quinine it contains. Cooked bitter gourd stimulates the appetite, cleanses the liver, purifies the blood, and provides many other benefits.
In South India, karela are soaked overnight in brine or buttermilk and sun dried, and then deep-fried as needed, and like pappadums, served as crunchy accompaniments or added to soups and stews. These vadiyams or vadams are generally available in most of the Indian grocery stores. Karela contains a chemical called charantin which reduces high blood glucose levels, and hence the best home remedy for diabetes (as a curry or juice).
Along with fiber, karela contains several vitamins, minerals, and trace elements like vitamin C, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, and phosphorus. Like most vegetables, karela is low in calories, and as such great for weight-loss.