Pavakkai Puli Kuzhambu /Karela curry / Bitter gourd inTamarind gravy

Pavakkai Puli Kuzhambu /Karela curry / Bitter gourd in Tamarind gravy is a riot of flavors, a perfect combination of tangy, bitter and coconut nuttiness.

pavakkai puli kuzhambu
Bitter for the winter!
It is true,bitter is really good for winter.


I love pavakkai / Bittergourd in any form. A tasty veggie,  I did not develop my liking towards it willingly but I am thankful to my mom for forcing me to try things I hesitated to. 

Here is a nice tangy tart curry to go with rice.I am sure you will love it.

I have not deep fried the bittergourd  but sauteed it for few minutes and steam cooked them.


Recipe adapted from :Cook like Priya


 Bitter Gourd/ Pavakka – 2
Onion – 1 medium( chopped)
Tomato – 1 medium (chopped)
Tamarind – 1 medium gooseberry size

Chilli powder -1 tsp
Turmeric powder 1 tsp
Asafoetida – a small pinch

To make powder:
Coriander powder- 1 tbsp
Whole red dry chili -3

Cumin seeds -1 tsp 
Whole pepper corn- 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds -1 /2 tsp
 instead of  powdering use( puli kuzhambu powder -2 tsp + coriander powder -1 tsp).

To Grind to paste:
Coconut – 2 tbsp (I used 2 tbsp coconut milk)
Fennel Seed – 1 tsp (powdered)

Fenugreek seeds 1/2 tsp (dry roasted and powdered) 

Seasoning :
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp 
Red chili-1 
curry leaves- few


1.In a small pan dry roast the ingredients till the aroma comes switch off flame powder to fine when cool.Keep aside (Use store bought  powder to avoid this step but nothing beats home made pd.)
Soak tamarind in 1 glass warm water.
2. Cut the bitter gourd into thin rounds. Heat 2-3 tsp of cooking oil in a pan and saute them for a few minutes sprinkle some water with ur hand cover and let it cook in the steam. Check in between to see if its burning on the bottom.Add salt and cook till all the water evaporates.Keep aside.

3. Heat 3-4 tsps in a pan and saute the onions till are cooked then add the tomato chopped continue sauteing when it cooks add the powders.(salt,chilli,turmeric,asafoetida, masala powder from step 1) saute till for few minutes till oil separates then add tamarind extract let the curry come to a boil then reduce flame.
4. Add  coconut paste  let it simmer for 10-15 minutes till the curry thickens.(I have added fenugreek and fennel powder in the end here as I have used coconut milk for convenience sake)
5.Let the curry cool then add the cooked bitter gourd pieces.(this reduces bitterness spreading in the whole curry or add along with coconut paste if u like )
6.Heat one tsp oil add mustard when it crackles add whole red chili and curry leaves when the aroma comes switch off flame season on top of curry/kuzhambu.

U may deep fry the bitter gourd instead of steaming.

Use puli kuzhambu powder instead of the powder used here and reduce tamarind quantity accordingly.

As the curry rests it will darken in color.

Andd… now ur lunch is served……

 Instant Mango pickle-click for recipe ), Pavakkai puli kuzhambu, Beans poriyal, microwaved pappadam and Rice. 

Bitter gourd curries to try :

Hope you like it.




15 Replies to “Pavakkai Puli Kuzhambu /Karela curry / Bitter gourd inTamarind gravy”

  1. Shibi Thomas

    Meena, I like Pavacka too. My grandma used to make Pavacka Manga Theeyal which was her favorite. Its been a while I had made anything with fresh pavacka. The curry looks really yum with the thick yellow gravy, perfect with some hot steaming rice.

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