Bitter Gourd Fry (Pavakkai Porial)

Bitter gourd, as its name implies has bitter taste.  Due to this bitter taste, a lot of people do not like this vegetable.  But in Sri Lanka, especially Jaffna bitter gourd is a very common vegetable and bitter gourd curry is consumed with rice.  Bitter gourd can be fried as below and be eaten with rice.  The recipe below reduces the bitterness because of the red onion.


  • 6 oz bitter gourd (after removing seeds)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (for bitter gourd)
  • ¾ teaspoon mild chili powder (for bitter gourd)
  • Oil for deep frying (preferably canola oil)
  • 4 oz red onion
  • Little bit of salt and red chili powder (for onion)
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 – 4 dried red chilies broken into 2 – 3 pieces
  • Curry leaves
  • About 1 tablespoon oil to sauté onion


  • Slit bitter gourd length wise and remove the seeds

  • Slice each half into thin slices
  • Add salt and chili powder and mix well and let stand for about 10 minutes
  • In a vessel add oil and when it’s hot, add bitter gourd and fry until crisp and golden brown (bitter gourd has a tendency to lose its crispness very quickly, but it’s ok for this recipe)
  • Drain in a paper towel and set aside
  • Peel onion and cut them into very thin slices and then cut them diagonally into 2 pieces
  • Add salt and chili to the onion
  • In a skillet add oil and add onion and sauté until translucent
  • Peel garlic and chop them into very small pieces
  • Add garlic to the skillet and fry until onion and garlic are golden brown
  • Add red chili, cumin seeds, curry leaves and fry for another minute
  • Turn off the heat and add fried bitter gourd to the onion mixture and mix well
  • Serve with rice.

2 thoughts on “Bitter Gourd Fry (Pavakkai Porial)

  1. hi!
    I am excited..i went shopping yesterday and bought all the ingredients i didn’t have.. I will be eating bitter gourd curry for lunch!
    Once again i thank you for the wonderful reading and cooking pleasure! It has been years that i have wanted to know about all the things in my Tamil market..”V S cash and carry” and thanks to you I can now shop there like a pro!(well,almost:))
    There are some things there..little grape-like firm green veggies..maybe like eggplant..but very smal,l and also large white lima-bean shaped “seeds”.(.maybe jackfruit seeds)..Remember I am in paris so most people in the store–and signs are not in English.. Anyway Do you know what I might be describing??and any receipes?

    1. There is a kind of eggplant (I believe) which is green and small – about the size of a small egg but rounded. Its green with white spots/streaks here and there. I am not sure that is what you saw there. I have seen this eggplant in Indian stores here. I will post a picture when I buy them the next time. I think its called either “Sundang Kathirikai” or “Kandang Kathirikai” or some thing like that.

      Jack fruit seeds are white but quite elongated and almost pointy on both ends. We don’t get them here in NJ. May be rarely

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