Pavakkai Kalavai Chips (Bitter Gourd Mixed Chips)

This recipe, created by my mother, counters the primary objection to bitter gourd – that it is bitter. The bitterness of the gourd is offset by the sweetness of the potato and coconut, resulting in a delicious combination of subtle flavours. It was always prepared as a side dish and was wildly popular in my family. I still remember my cousin visiting us when were children and eating the entire bowl of chips while he was playing carom with us. My mother felt highly complimented, not only because her preparation was such a hit, but also because he was my father’s sister’s son and my mother had been engaged in a long-term culinary contest with her sister-in-law 🙂

Pavakkai Kalavai Chips 1 - Kalas Kalai

Pavakkai Kalavai Chips (Bitter Gourd Mixed Chips)

Nutritive Value

This is a high energy dish, the calories coming from the potatoes, coconut, and the oil used for deep frying. Bitter gourd itself contributes only a very small amount of beta carotene and vitamin C.


  • ¼ kg Bitter Gourd (small or large)
  • 1 large Potato
  • ½ C Coconut bits (see photo)
  • 1/8 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • ½ tsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder
  • ¾ tsp Salt
  • Vegetable Oil for deep frying


  1. Remove the seeds from the bitter gourd. Slice into thin rings as you would for Pavakkai Poriyal.
  2. Pare and dice the potatoes into 1-centimetre cubes.
Pavakkai Kalavai Chips 2 - Kalas Kalai

Sliced bitter gourd, cubed potatoes, and coconut bits

  1. Place the bitter gourd, potato, coconut bits, salt, turmeric, and chilli powder in a mixing bowl. Toss to mix well.
  2. Heat oil in a kadai or wok. Deep fry the bitter gourd mix, one handful at a time. Remove when bitter gourd is cooked but not fried crisp.
  3. Drain and serve.


  1. This preparation is called chips because it is deep fried, but the vegetable should be crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. If you fry it any longer, the potato and the coconut will get burnt.
  2. Refrigerate any leftovers as it will not keep like other chips.
  3. Fry the bitter gourd a handful at a time as a lot of steam will be released when it enters the oil. Care should be taken to remove your hand quickly once the bitter gourd is added as the steam from even a handful can scald your hand.
  4. I prefer to use Kashimiri chilli powder for its rich colour and mild flavour.

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