Ellu/Sesame Seed Thuvaiyal

Most times, the simplest dishes taste the best. Thuvaiyal is one such. One that comes handy when you have ran out of vegetables. One than you can put together in no time at all especially when it’s just you at home and you don’t feel like cooking for just one person. Thuvaiyals also are great accompaniments for travel foods such as lemon rice, tamarind rice or curd rice!



  • 1 tbsp Ellu/Sesame Seeds
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • 1 cup chopped coconut
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Half a lemon size tamerind
  • Salt to taste


  • Dry roat the ellu/sesame seeds until it begins to pop.
  • Add it to the rest of the ingredients in a mixer jar, add water in small amounts and blend it until it becomes a fine paste.
  • Serve with any variety rice.

Pagarkai Puli Kulambu

I remember so well, back in our college hostel this kulambu used to be served every Wednesday along with huge apalams and veg curries. We were a gang of eight friends and I was the only soul who used to enjoy it. The rest were not too fond of bitter-gourd. So this recipe goes to all who share my taste in food!




  • 3 pagarkai/bitter-gourds sliced and soaked in salt water
  • 10 chinna vengayam/shallots
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 4 dry red chilli
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp coriander powder
  • Few curry leaves
  • A small lemon size tamarind soaked in water
  • 3 tbsp gingelly oil
  • Salt to taste


  •  In a wok, pour oil and fry the pagarkai until it turn light golden brown. Move it to a side.
  • Add mustard, cumin, fenugreek seeds and dry chillies to the same oil. As it begins to splutter, add the shallots and garlic. Saute until the onions become transparent and slightly golden.
  • Now add the tomatoes and a little salt to the shallots. Saute including the pagarkai.
  • Once the tomatoes are cooked and the oil surfaces, add the curry leaves, chilli, coriander and turmeric powder. Give it a good mix.
  • Strain the tamarind and pour the concentrate.
  • Add two cups of water and salt. Let the kulambu boil and reduce to a consistency of your liking.

I prefer this Kulambu with apalams or vathal and an omelette. It also goes well with simple veggies like ladies finger or cabbage.

Simple Pagarkai Fry

This is a very easy and quick side dish that you can enjoy on a lazy afternoon with either sambar, rasam or just simple curd rice! Even a person who detests bitter-gourd will fall for this simple fry. The Telugus prefer this fry made with besan flour! But my taste buds prefer the simple version. So here you go!



  • 4 bitter-gourds
  • Oil to fry
  • 1 tbsp sambar powder (I used Aashirvaad sambar podi)
  • Salt to taste


  • Slice the bitter-gourd into approx 4mm slices (I don’t like it to be cut super fine because once you fry it, it will loose it’s taste) and soak it in a bowl of salt water for 10 mins (this, they say, will remove the bitterness!).
  • Heat oil in a frying pan and deep fry the bitter-gourd.
  • Remove when it just turns light brown. (I prefer my fries not too crispy with the original taste of the vegetable still lingering!)
  • Once the fries cool down, mix it with the sambar powder and salt. If you do not have sambar powder, just chilly powder would do!