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Friday, November 07, 2008

Bitter Gourd in Black Sesame Seed Sauce


"Ellu Pachadi" is one of my favorite saucy sides to eat with rice. "Ellu" means Sesame Seeds in Tamil and "Pachadi" is an envelope term that is basically a side dish usually made with yogurt, or tamarind.

The spice mix for this ellu pachadi can be made ahead and it stores well for a few months in the fridge - mainly, since sesame seeds are oily, this mix can get rancid if left out for too long.

I like the ellu pachadi to be a good balance of hot-sour-sweet. The spice mix provides the hot part, brown sugar makes it a bit sweet, and tamarind paste rounds out the sourness. Amount of black peppers and dry red chilies in the spice mix can be adjusted to suit your taste.

Instead of bitter gourd, which can be an acquired taste, ellu pachadi can be made with okra, pumpkin, any type of sweetish winter squash, even with sweet potatoes or yam.

for the spice mix:
¼ cup black sesame seeds
¼ whole black peppers
4-6 dry red chilies
½ cup dry grated coconut

1-2 bitter gourd, cut into thin slices
1 tomato, diced finely (optional)
1-2 Tbsp brown sugar
1- 2 tsp thick tamarind paste
salt to taste
4-6 cups water

1-2 Tbsp rice flour for thickening

tempering: 1 tsp canola oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp urad dal
garnish: curry leaves and cilantro

  1. Spice Mix: lightly dry toast the spice mix ingredients, allow to cool a bit and grind to a coarse powder
  2. bring the bitter gourd and water to a boil, add tamarind paste and some salt, and let the bitter gourd simmer till a bit soft, but not mushy
  3. taste and add brown sugar and spice mix a little at a time to get a good balance of the hot-sour-sweet flavors
  4. allow to simmer till bitter gourd is cooked through to your liking
  5. mix the rice flour in a few Tbsp of water to make a loose paste and stir it in to thicken the pachadi
  6. Tempering: heat the oil in a pan, when it shimmers, add the urad dal, when it turns golden brown, add the mustard seeds and when the mustard seeds pop remove from heat and add to the pachadi
  7. garnish with curry leaves and/or cilantro

Serve warm with hot rice, or even with simple roti.

Optionally, serve with turmeric rice as pictured above - heat some oil, add some turmeric and allow it to bloom a bit, then off heat stir in the rice to coat with the yellow turmeric uniformly. Start with maybe 1 tsp of turmeric powder for 2 cups of cooked rice; add more turmeric if preferred.

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  • At 12:07 PM, Blogger Sharmi said…

    ellu pachadi looks yummy, I make puli kulambu like this:)

  • At 4:28 AM, Blogger Cynthia said…

    I love bittergourd but have always cooked it as a dry curry. Yours looks so yummy.

  • At 4:33 PM, Blogger PaakaPriya said…

    Tried this recipe today. Mine came out a little more darker but the taste was amazing!! Thanks for a great recipe!


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