Stir-Fried Bitter Gourd

As a kid, my grandmom and mom had a tough time with me because I was a very picky eater. They always had to make some sort of meat or seafood for me to have my dinner and vegetables were a huge no-no for me. They would really struggle to make me feed a meal with just veggies and if it was bitter gourd I was no where to be found. It felt absolutely disgusting for its extreme bitter taste. My mom and grandmom they both are amazing cooks and my cooking inspiration comes from them and I guess I have mentioned this many times before. And they both could do wonders with this bitter ingredient; create such amazing dishes to die for. But as I started growing up; my taste palates evolved and I had a huge affinity towards bitter food ingredients and bitter gourd turned out to be one of my favorite vegetables. During my first visit back to India after moving to Boston for my grad school; my mom asked me what did I want to eat when I got back and joyously I told her I want pavakka (bitter gourd called in Malayalam) and she couldn’t help but laugh. And when I got home; she made this amazing pavakka pachadi (which is a side dish made from bitter gourd and yogurt, I will try to make that dish sometime soon). This stir-fried recipe is something both these amazing women would always make when they wanted to make a side dish super quick.


  • Bitter Gourd (3-4)
  • Chili Powder (1/2 tablespoon)
  • Turmeric Powder (1/2 teaspoon)
  • White Vinegar (1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • Salt
  • Curry Leaves (1 spring; optional)
  • Vegetable oil


Cut the bitter gourd into half length-wise and then remove the seeds from the inside and then slice them into 2 centimetres long slices.

Generously season it with salt and then add the chili powder, turmeric powder and white vinegar and give it a mix and let it sit for 5 minutes.

You can then just pop it in the microwave for 4 minutes on high heat or just put it in a sauce pan over the hob on low heat and let it sweat for 4-5 minutes stirring occasionally.

Once you have the bitter gourd sweating place a pan over medium heat and add some vegetable oil and once hot add the curry leaves (if using) and cook for 10 seconds. Add the bitter gourd into the pan and cook for 7-8 minutes stirring frequently. Serve it as a side dish along with some rice and dal tadka or moru curry.


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