Bitter Gourd Curry

Bitter Gourd Curry (Pavakka Theeyal) is a traditional recipe from Southern India. Bitter gourd or Bitter melon as its sometimes called is a medicinal fruit.It is native to Asia and Africa .It is also found in some parts of the Caribbean . For those who have never had dishes made out of bitter gourd, it may take some getting used to as it is very bitter . This dish however has an overpowering flavor of spices which subsides the bitterness. The sourness from the tamarind , spice from the green chilies and the roasted ground coconut gives it a unique taste and flavor that is very tempting and satisfies the taste buds.

Bitter gourd is quite popularly known for its medicinal properties especially for it’s hypoglycemic affects and lowering blood sugar. It is supposed to mimic insulin’s effects .Researchers however state that further studies are needed for it’s use in certain health conditions .It also is said to help protect from cancers, ailments related to respiratory infections like pneumonia, abdominal pain,ulcers,cramps, fluid retention,eczema,jaundice, kidney stones ,so on and so forth. The list of ailments it can help heal goes on .So now we know why we have a great incentive to use bitter gourd in our diets.

This dish is quite simple to make .It best goes with white rice or even roti. Please read on for the full recipe. Hope you get a chance to make and relish this dish ! Enjoy:)

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5 from 1 vote
Bitter Gourd Curry (Pavakka Theeyal)
Total Time
30 mins

A spicy and delicious curry made with bitter gourd and roasted ground coconut

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: kerala, south Indian
  • 3 bitter gourd medium sized cut into small strips
  • 3-4 pearl onions chopped
  • 2 tbsp tamarind juice squeezed from lemon sized ball
  • 1 inch ginger finely cut
  • 1 tsp red chilly powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 4 Thai green chillies Add more if required
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
To Grind Roast
  • 2 cups coconut freshly grated or frozen thawed
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 3 pearl onion cut into small pieces
  • 4 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp red chilly powder
  1. In a pan ,dry roast the contents mentioned in the “to grind roast” until the coconut gets browned but not burnt.

  2. Cool the contents and grind in a mixer with very less water into a fine paste.

  3. In a deep bottomed pan, boil  water with the extract of tamarind juice squeezed.

  4. Add  ginger, green chilies, turmeric, red chilly powder and the cut bitter gourd pieces into it.

  5. Cook for about 10 to 12 mins or until the bitter gourd is almost cooked . 

  6. Add the ground coconut, curry leaves and bring it to a boil. It should get a nice brown color.

  7. In a small pan heat up some oil and add mustard seeds .Add red chilies   and curry leaves 

  8. Pour this tempered oil  into the curry and mix well. 

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Bitter Gourd Curry

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  • Reply
    Lorelle Catalano
    March 16, 2019 at 4:34 am

    I remember my mum making this curry, never was a fan for bitter gourd though! 😉

    • Reply
      March 16, 2019 at 2:06 pm

      Nice to know that you have tried it Lorelle . I can very well understand does take some acquired taste to get a liking for it! Thank you for stopping by.

  • Reply
    March 16, 2019 at 1:20 pm

    Sounds yum 😋 Love bitter gourd and hope to try this recipe soon 🙂

    • Reply
      March 16, 2019 at 2:08 pm

      That’s wonderful you love bitter gourd Smitha. I’m pretty sure you will love this curry! Thank you for the comments and stopping by .

  • Reply
    March 16, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    5 stars
    I love theeyal for the delicious roasted coconut flavour, and this bittergourd theeyal looks so inviting.

    • Reply
      March 16, 2019 at 8:13 pm

      Sure It does have a unique and wonderful taste. Thank you so much !

  • Reply
    March 17, 2019 at 1:10 am

    Another new food for me…bitter gourd….hmmmmm. Wish I could try your food because it always looks delish!

    • Reply
      March 18, 2019 at 12:19 am

      Oh you are always welcome Diane , it would be my pleasure . This dish does require some acquired taste but it is really delicious with a steaming bowl of rice and rice wafers. Thank you !

  • Reply
    Dietitian Mom
    March 17, 2019 at 4:07 am

    What an intriguing combination – curry and bitter gourd! Is it possible to not add in the thai chilies to make this dish less spicy? 🙂

    • Reply
      March 18, 2019 at 12:15 am

      Sure Anna, you can try it without the chillies and it will still taste good! Thank you for stopping by.

  • Reply
    March 18, 2019 at 9:40 am

    5 stars
    Such a healthy share Nisha…I too make curry with bitter gourd but your version is totally different, loved it ❣️. Like to give a try sometime 👍

    • Reply
      March 18, 2019 at 3:03 pm

      Thank you so much Jyo, it is indeed healthy . I’m sure you will love this version as well.

  • Reply
    March 18, 2019 at 1:35 pm

    I didn’t really enjoy bitter gourd when I was growing up but I think I need to revisit it. Especially in a curry, this sounds really good!

    • Reply
      March 18, 2019 at 3:05 pm

      Same here me too avoided bitter gourd when I was growing up ..but now that I know the health benefits started including in my diet and slowly started liking it as well 🙂 Thank you for the comments!

  • Reply
    Caz / InvisiblyMe
    March 18, 2019 at 6:05 pm

    You’ve covered this so thoroughly, great post! I did try to leave a comment before but it wouldn’t submit and came up with an error (unless it went to spam, in which case you now have two from me). This wasn’t a dish I’d ever heard of so it’s interesting to see what goes in to it. And fascinating too about its medicinal properties, definitely sounds like it’s one worth trying, especially if you have issues with blood sugar! x

    • Reply
      March 18, 2019 at 8:20 pm

      Thank you so much Caz. I did not see a message in my spam section , so guess it must have gotten into an error on submit .I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment.Bitter gourd does have wonderful and remarkable medicinal properties and is used in many traditional medicines as well. This dish made out of bitter gourd tastes good and is healthy as well , so it’s a win-win situation
      on both fronts . Have a good week!

  • Reply
    Christy B
    March 18, 2019 at 11:54 pm

    I think I would like the version with white rice! I have never had this dish 🙂

    • Reply
      March 19, 2019 at 2:16 pm

      Thank you Christy . That is the best combination to bring out all the flavors 🍚

  • Reply
    March 19, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    5 stars
    An excellent recipe for sure! Seems like I could try this one!❤️❤️

    • Reply
      March 19, 2019 at 2:15 pm

      Many Thanks , hope you like it 👍🏻

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