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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Pan Fried Pavakkai Bitter gourd

easy recipe pan fried pavakkai bitter melon indian vegetarian asian cuisine

Pavakkai is bitter gourd, in Tamil. It used to be one of my least favorite ones despite my dad extolling its virtues (antido­tal, antipyretic tonic, appetizing, stomachic, antibilious and laxative) in the health department. Not sure when exactly it happened, but around the time I "grew up", I started appreciating pavakkai more, and these days am so glad D loves it too, so I get to make it as often as I want :)

Bitter gourd, or bitter melon, that I have used so far are of two types:
1. small, dark green with pronounced ridges and bitterness
2. larger, light green, relatively smooth skin and mildly bitter

I cook each in different ways - the smaller one is good for stuffing and frying, the bigger one is good in sambar or pan-fried as a side dish in this recipe. The pronounced bitterness doesn't blend well with other vegetables to my liking.


1 - 2 large green bitter melon (Fu Gwa)
2 - 3 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp dry red chili powder
1 Tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
salt to taste

tempering: 1 Tbsp canola oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 3-4 curry leaves


chop the ends off, scoop out the innards* and slice the pavakkai into rings; salt it and let it sit for about 10 minutes; drain, pat dry
*If it helps, here's how I usually do it: I cut them into roughly 3-inch pieces, and insert my vegetable peeler or a spoon into the central pulp and rotate it like I am juicing a lemon, trying not to tear the flesh apart to scoop out the innards:)

tempering: heat oil in a pan, when shimmering add the mustard seeds and when they pop add the cumin seeds and curry leaves, then add the powdered spices, stir a little to let the spices bloom

add the sliced pavakkai, brown sugar, some salt, a few tablespoons of water, cover and let it sweat and cook a little; then remove the lid, turn up the heat and pan fry till done, adding a little more oil if needed; off heat stir in lemon juice

Serve warm with basmati rice and ghee, or rasam, or mor-kozhambu.

This Pan-fried Pavakkai is my 'P' dish for lovely Nupur's A to Z of Indian Vegetables event.

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  • At 11:38 PM, Blogger Sig said…

    Pavakkai in sambar, really? Bitter gourd is my favorite, one of the few vegetables I loved when I was young and still do... but can't imagine it in sambar!!! :) Siv is not a big fan, unless it is deep fried to the degree that it is not bitter anymore :)...
    I am thinking of making a Pavakka dish for A-Z too... haven't been cooking this week, really busy at work, not sure if I will get around to it..

  • At 3:23 AM, Blogger Nupur said…

    Those rings of bitter gourd look like delicate bracelets! Thanks for participating!

  • At 9:45 AM, Blogger Sheela said…

    Thanks Nupur! I hope this recipe makes you a convert - makes you crave for bitter gourd :-)

    Sig, ya, in sambar! well, with the tamarind and brown sugar in my sambars the bitterness seems to blend well :-)

    Actually, what I like better is Pavakkai Pitlai as it is called - a variation of the arachu vitta sambar recipe I have, using pavakkai. Yumm :-) That was the recipe I wanted to make for P but with a deadline for a project launch, i decided to fall back on a simpler favorite...

    i really became a convert because my dad keeps telling me about the health benefits; i hated pavakkai as a child, but, my mom would diligently make it once every two weeks or so!

  • At 2:59 PM, Blogger indosungod said…

    Pavakkai dish looks tasty. I love pavakkai cooked anyways but have not tried with Sambhar though.

    I buy the pavakkai with ridges the one that is smooth (think it is the Chinese variety) does it secrete too much water? and how did you make it so dry?

  • At 10:19 AM, Blogger Suganya said…

    These pictures make me forget the bitterness of pavakkai. I love pavakkai prepared this way..

  • At 12:10 PM, Blogger Sukanya Ramkumar said…

    First time to ur blog....Nice pavakkai recipe....I love it...


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