Sumptuous Bitter Gourd(பாகற்காய் புளிக்குழம்பு)

Bitter Gourd is hailed for its medicinal properties, especially its effect on regulating blood sugar, but hated more vehemently due to its taste. Many recipes try to cut down the bitterness of this vegetable so that it is more palatable, but this recipe of my mother-in-law turns the bitterness into a strength and makes a tangy, spicy, complex sauce that is incredibly tasty. This recipe is not for the light hearted. So tread with care!


  • Bitter gourd – 500 gm cut into small pieces
  • One large tomato
  • One large onion
  • Red chilli powder – 4 tea spoons
  • Salt – 1 table spoon
  • Tamarind – one small lime size, soaked for 30 min in water
  • Dhania powder – 2 tea spoons
  • Jaggery – 2 table spoons 
  • Half cup grated coconut
  • 8 garlic pods
  • 1/2 an inch piece of fresh ginger
  • Mustard, urad dal, jeera and curry leaves for seasoning
  • Oil – 1 table spoon

Cooking time: 40 minutes


  • Grind together coconut, garlic and ginger into a smooth paste
  • In a heavy bottomed skillet, heat the oil
  • Add the seasoning
  • Once the mustard splutters, add onions and cook till translucent
  • Add tomatoes and cook for a minute
  • Now add the ground coconut and cook until raw smell leaves
  • Add salt, chilli powder and dhania powder and cook for a minute
  • Now add bitter gourd pieces and add enough water to cover it
  • Cook for 30 minutes under medium heat or until the bitter gourd pieces become soft
  • Squeeze tamarind to extract the juice
  • Add the tamarind extract
  • Cook for about 2-3 minutes
  • Add jaggery
  • Check the taste and adjust spice and salt at this point
  • You are all ready. Take a bite of this to to experience bitterness coating the back of your throat while the heat from the chilli gives you a kick with jaggery closing it off in a smooth finish
  • Serve it with chappathi or jowar roti for a perfect combination



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