Bitter Gourd Curry | Paavakkai Kuzhambu

paavakkai PM


This is one of my favourite ways of using Bitter gourd/Paavakkai/Karela and this curry also freezes well if you need to make it in advance. The tamarind takes away the pungent taste of the Bitter Gourd and adds a yummy sour note and the coconut/soya milk enables you to control the consistency of the gravy as well as giving it a rich taste. In Tamil this curry is known as a ‘Kuzhambu’ and this term is mostly used when there is a tamarind gravy involved.

bitter gourd







What you need:

  • 2 medium sized bitter gourd, cut into discs or half discs
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 lime sized amount of tamarind pulp (or 2 teaspoons of tamarind paste)
  • 100ml of coconut milk/soya milk/full fat milk
  • 2 – 3 teaspoons of Srilankan curry powder (this is usually a lot spicier than other curry powders so be cautious if you haven’t used it before!)
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 5 – 6 curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Oil
  • Hot water
  • Salt to taste

How to make it:

  1. If using Tamarind pulp, then add 1 cup of hot water to it and leave aside. Heat the oil in a saucepan (a heavy based one is ideal) and add the black mustard seeds and let them pop.
  2. Add the fenugreek seeds, curry leaves and let them brown slightly (be careful not to burn the fenugreek as it will produce a very pungent taste)
  3. Add the onion and mix well on a medium flame. Cook for about 10mins or until softened.
  4. Add the Curry powder and mix well with the onions. Add 1 cup of hot water and the tamarind water/paste.
  5. Let the mixture come to a boil and then add the cut bitter gourd, salt, and mix well, Simmer for about 15 mins or until the bitter gourd is softened and cooked through and the tamarind has cooked off (you can tell this once the ‘raw’ smell of the tamarind has dissipated).
  6. Add the coconut/soya milk and let the curry simmer for a further 5 mins. Check seasoning and add more milk if you prefer.

Serve hot with Srilankan “Pittu” or your favourite rice/bulgar wheat/Quinoa, and some ripe banana if you like a sweet ‘n’ savoury combo 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s