Pavakkai Poriyal (Fried Bitter Gourd)

In India it is believed that eating bitter gourd will cure a person of the metabolic disorder diabetes mellitus. Many native medicine books claim the beneficial effects of bitter gourd. This has not been validated by properly tested methods, but still it is eaten widely hoping that it will effect some magic cure. When my mother made this preparation I was not very fond of it, but later on I devised a method of reducing the bitterness without losing the very small amount of nutrients that are present in it. The addition of sugar towards the end to give a glaze transports this dish to higher levels.

Pavakkai Poriyal 1 - Kalas Kalai

Pavakkai Poriyal (Fried Bitter Gourd)

Nutritive Value

The nutrient contribution of bitter gourd to a meal is of very little significance. It is the added ingredients which supply energy. Bitter gourd has very small amounts of beta carotene and vitamin C.

Pavakkai Poriyal 2 - Kalas Kalai

Pavakkai (Bitter Gourd)


  • ¼ kg Pavakkai (Bitter Gourd)
  • 2 Onions, diced
  • 2 sprigs Curry Leaves
  • ¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder
  • ¼ tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1 tsp Salt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • 3 T Vegetable Oil
  • 2 C Water with 1 tsp of Salt


  1. Quarter the bitter gourd. Remove the seeds and the pith with a corer.
Pavakkai Poriyal 3 - Kalas Kalai

Use a corer to remove the seeds and pith from the bitter gourd

  1. Slice the bitter gourd.
Pavakkai Poriyal 4 - Kalas Kalai

Sliced bitter gourd

  1. Place the bitter gourd slices in the salted water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside. Discard the water.
  2. Heat the oil in a non-stick kadai or wok.
  3. Add the mustard seeds. When they crackle add the bitter gourd.
  4. Fry on low heat till the bitter gourd is almost cooked.
  5. Add the onions. Increase the heat and cook till the onion is translucent.
  6. Add the turmeric powder, chilli powder, and salt.
  7. Stir and cook for a few minutes until it is dry.
  8. Add the sugar and stir till a glaze appears on the bitter gourd.
  9. Add the curry leaves. Stir and remove from heat.


  1. If you are using small bitter gourd, do not quarter or slice. Only remove the seeds and pith.
  2. Bitter gourd is soaked in salted water to remove some of the bitter taste.
  3. When sugar is added, stir on low heat to prevent caramelisation.
  4. If you do not wish to add chilli powder you can add whole red chillies before adding the onion. Remove the chillies before you add the sugar or else the chilli will also get glazed.
  5. I prefer using Kashmiri Chilli Powder for its milder flavour and striking red colour.

3 thoughts on “Pavakkai Poriyal (Fried Bitter Gourd)

  1. Thank you for the recipe Ma’am. I love bittergourd and personally don’t believe it reduces blood sugar. I usually deep fry or stuff them with mince meat. When I try to make a dry fry, it gets mushy. Maybe because I use jaggery instead of sugar.
    Thanks again Maam

      • Yes, I did. I guess that’s the reason. I will try with sugar the next time. Thank you Maam

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