Healthy Bittergourd Powder ~ Pahakkai Podi with Surya Natarajan

by on August 15, 2011

This healthy and delicious dish shared by Mrs Surya Natarajan was featured in the Harmony Magazine for SoulFood and SoulMates – a column by Jigyasa & Pratibha. Here silver couples share their views about life and love, and their favourite foods.
Click to read the interview with Mrs Surya & Mr Parmeshwar Natarajan

We have enjoyed the Bittergourd (known as Karela in Hindi & Pahakkai in Tamil) in many forms, as a roasted veggie, as a dry side-dish with besan, as a healthy & tasty dal which we have featured in our Ayurvedic cookbook Sukham Ayu, and also as a Pitlai with coconut milk. But seeing it dried & roasted and made into a tasty powder with spices was a delight. And we have to thank Mrs Surya Natarajan for that. She is the mother of our cheerful & vivacious friend Shobha Viswanath of the Karadi Tales fame, and that’s how we happened to learn about her passion for cooking.

The Pahakkai Podi has been well received in our homes and is much liked by those who have diabetes. We enjoyed learning the recipe from Mrs Surya and preparing it at home. All it needs is a day or two of sunlight to dry the gourds. The BITTERGOURD powder stays fresh for weeks in an air-tight container. This healthy & tasty powder with the goodness of bittergourds is another favourite in Mrs Surya’s family.

Healthy Bittergourd powder - ideal for diabetics


  • Bittergourds – ¼ kg, chopped
  • Split black gram (udad dal, husked) – 1 cup
  • Black peppercorns – ½ cup
  • Asafoetida powder – a pinch
  • Curry leaves – a few
  • Dry mango powder (amchur) – ½ tsp
  • Salt to taste


1. Soak the bittergourds for 2-3 minutes in hot water & salt. Strain and dry in direct sunlight for 1-2 days until well dried.
2. Roast the gourds for a few minutes. Set aside.
3. Dry roast the black gram, peppercorns, asafoetida and curry leaves, each separately until the aroma rises.
4. Mix everything and grind into a powder along with the sun-dried gourds, salt & dry mango powder. Serve with steaming hot rice and a dollop of ghee.

Photo Courtesy: Food pic by Manasvi.

>> Mrs Surya & Mr Parmeshwar Natarajan ~ Read an interview of this charming couple.
>> Click to view the orange tholi pachchadi shared by Mrs Surya Natarajan.

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