Pavakkai Curry ~ South Indian Meal Dishes

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For the second day of South Indian Meal Dishes, I have yet another healthy vegetable that gets served as the side dish. Though something that I stay away from. Didn’t I tell you that I don’t eat bitter gourd? Well for all it’s healthy etc, it’s something I am yet to get friendly with. When you are not friendly with something, you really don’t want to do much with it right?
So it happens that when I see that this is served, I only make a point to check out how it is done and make notes to replicate at home. Hubby dear happens to love this vegetable, I have always wondered how. Anyway each one to their fancy. If he likes, I will make it, only he shouldn’t force me to eat. One will think that one would want to share such things. No, he is so fond that he doesn’t mind not sharing. All good for me though!
Athamma also loves Karela, so I make different varieties with this vegetable just for the two of them. This version was told by Amma and hubby dear said it tastes good. If you are a karela lover, you will love it, is what he says!

Pavakkai Curry 

Ingredients Needed:

Bitter gourd – 2 medium / 2 cups
Onions – 1 medium
Tomato – 1 medium
Mustard Seeds, Urad dal – 1/2 tsp
curry leaves handful
Red chili powder – 1 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder a pinch
Salt to taste
Tamarind extract – 2 tsp
Oil – 2 tsp

How to make the bitter gourd curry

Wash and chop the bitter gourds as julienne.

Heat a pan with oil, add mustard, urad dal and curry leaves. Saute for couple of mins, then add the chopped onions, continue sauteing till the onions turn colour

Then add the chopped tomatoes, salt, turmeric. Mix well and simmer. Let the tomatoes get soft.

Next add the red chili powder, coriander powder. Combine all and sprinkle little water on it for the tomatoes to get very mushy. Now add bitter gourd pieces and saute well.

Let this get well mixed, now add the tamarind extract and continue boiling. Add 1/2 cup water and let it boil and then simmer so that the vegetable gets cooked and water is all evaporated.


Normally bitter gourd is either dry roasted or par boiled to remove excess bitterness. In this curry we have not done that as we are adding tamarind extract, which will balance the bitterness.

The curry is supposed to be dry saute with the masala clinging to the vegetable.

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Pavakkai Curry ~ South Indian Meal Dishes
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  1. Vaishali We mostly don't peel the karelas too much, just scrap the outer skin lightly…if you notice hard, you will see the thick green outer skin

  2. The same idea works in my home too. I too cook dishes which are not favorite of mine but no one can make me eat. 🙂
    I am surprised that your bitter gourd preparation doesn't need any sweetener.

  3. Suma I don't remember either Amma or Athamma adding jaggary to our bittergourd, so even I never do. I can't say how different it might taste as I don't eat it. However my husband likes it bitter. So I guess he doesn't know the difference..:)

  4. I absolutely love pavakkai and in fact my whole family loves it. That is the reason we grow tons of pavakki in our backyard. We also add jaggery in our curry, but like you said if you like it bitter, then it alright to skip it.

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