Spicy Bitter Gourd Curry

Bitter gourd curry

This curry is called “Pavakkai curry” in Tamil.  Bitter gourd, as the name implies is very bitter.  To mask the bitterness, normally it’s cooked very spicy.  Also to reduce the bitterness either coconut water or a little bit sugar is used.  I prefer using coconut water since it’s healthy and has some nice flavor and taste.  Using a lot of tamarind paste also reduces the bitterness.  Using coconut milk in this curry gives it a nice flavor and aroma compared to normal milk.


  • 3 medium bitter gourd
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • ¼ cup coconut water or 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ cup thick coconut milk or  2% milk
  • 1 cup sliced onion
  • 2 dried red chilies broken into 2 – 3 pieces
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • Salt to taste


  • Slit the bitter gourd length wise and remove the seeds.  Then cut them in to thin slices diagonally
  • Cut the onion into thin slices
  • Add oil to a covered saucepan, add onion and fry on low flame for about 7 – 8 minutes or until golden brown
  • Add broken red chilies and fry for another 1 – 2 minutes
  • Add bitter gourd and fry for a minute
  • Add water, chili powder, salt, tamarind, coconut water and coconut milk and bring to a boil.  Cover the saucepan and cook for about 20 minutes or until bitter gourd is completely cooked and the water is almost absorbed.
  • ** If you are using normal milk, don’t add it at the beginning.  After 20 minutes just add milk and cook for about 5 minutes in low flame.

Yields 4 servings as a side dish

3 thoughts on “Spicy Bitter Gourd Curry

  1. I usually add them just 5 – 6 minutes before removing from the fire. So that the curry will still smell good and the coriander and cumin powder get cooked too.

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