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Bitter Gourd (Pavakkai) Stir Fry

Bitter_Gourd_Pavakkai_Stir_Fry_1 Bitter gourd or bitter melon is known for its medicinal value and bitter taste. This should be cooked tactfully to reduce the bitterness by adding any sour ingredient. I use fresh lemon juice or tamarind pulp to neutralize bitterness. Sometimes I also use dry mango powder (amchur/amchoor). Dry mango powder gives some flavor to the veggie and avoids sagginess in stir fries. I also use equal amount of onions as bitter gourd to make it tasty.

Here is Bitter Gourd (Pavakkai) Stir Fry with amchur as sour ingredient. Bitter gourd needs more time and more oil to cook. I cook them slightly in microwave oven and then do normal cooking to reduce oil consumption and time.

Bitter gourd is known as Pavakkai in Tamil and as Karela in Hindi.

Cooking time: 20 minutes approximately

Serves: 4


  • Bitter gourd or melon – 3 no (chopped)
  • Onion – 3 no (chopped)
  • Dry mango powder or amchoor – 1 table spoon
  • Roasted cumin powder – ½ tea spoon
  • Red chilli powder – 1 tea spoon (adjust as per taste) Bitter_Gourd_Pavakkai_Stir_Fry_2
  • Coriander powder – 1 table spoon
  • Garam masala powder – ½ tea spoon
  • Turmeric – ¼ tea spoon
  • Sugar – 1 tea spoon (optional)
  • Salt – as per taste
  • For seasoning
    • Cumin seeds – 1 tea spoon
    • Curry leaves – few
    • Oil – 2 to 3 tea spoon

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  • Cook bitter gourd in microwave oven for 6 minutes in full power (optional – follow this step if you want to use MW).

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  • Heat a pan with oil and do the seasoning; add onion and fry till it is transparent.

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  • Add bitter gourd and fry for few minutes (if you have not used MW fry for some more minutes by sprinkling water); add all dry spices, salt, sugar and mix well.

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  • Cook in low flame for 10 minutes or till bitter gourd pieces are well roasted and cooked; stir in between.

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  • Serve with rice or chappati.



  • Tender seeds of bitter gourd can also be used.

Picture_068 This post is part of the event “Think Spice:Think Amchoor” hosted by Bhagyashri of Taste Buds and created by Sunita’s World.

{ 6 comments… add one }

  • ruchikacooks February 19, 2010, 6:09 am

    Pavakkai looks crispy, I am always worried about the bitter taste so I use kutti ones.

  • Sushma Mallya February 19, 2010, 1:25 pm

    i usually deep fry it, but this sounds much healthier and yummy…

  • Vinolia February 19, 2010, 1:33 pm

    I like paavakka too; I use tamarind toremove the bitterness; mango powder is a brilliant idea too!! your paavakka fry looks perfectly browned and delicious!!!

  • Bhagyashri February 19, 2010, 1:52 pm

    Exactly what I needed with 3 bittergourds in the fridge! Looks great. Thanks for the entry.

  • Shama February 19, 2010, 2:51 pm

    nice space..lovely collection of recipes…..yummy fry

  • Latha January 31, 2011, 10:36 pm

    Dear Kamala,

    This is a superb recipe. The aamchur gives a very different taste from tamarind. Thanks for the equal quantity of onions tip.

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