Pavakka Puli Curry

Here's a simple veg curry for rice! Pavakka (Bitter Gourd) is one vegetable which I learnt to appreciate over time.

The timeline of moving from “strong dislike” to “appreciate” was quite a long one though ;) Anyway, these days I quite enjoy the vegetable especially if it's pavakka theeyal.

However, Jose is still in the process of learning to appreciate it. I was planning to speed up that process with this Pavakka Puli curry. It's his paternal grandmother's recipe.

Ammachi was very famous for her culinary skills and Jose still misses her cooking. Though he is yet to reach the “appreciation stage”, he did like the curry. I guess it's mostly to do with it being his “Ammachi's” recipe.

Anyways, I really loved it. It has a good flavor combination – the bitterness of pavakka is subdued a bit with the combination of coconut milk and tamarind. Also, if you like to balance the flavors, add jaggery too.

Serve with rice and pappad and am sure you will also like it.

Here is the recipe…

Pavakka Puli Curry
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Pavakka Puli Curry (Bitter Gourd in Tamarind Coconut Sauce)

Bitter Gourd cooked in a flavor packed tamarind coconut milk gravy. Tastes great with rice and pappad.
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Course: Lunch
Cuisine: Indian, South Indian, Kerala, Keralan
Author: Maria Jose Martin


  • 150 gms Bitter Gourd (pavakka) (sliced)
  • 4 Small/Pearl onion (sliced)
  • 1 Green chilli (sliced)
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp Coriander powder
  • small lemon size Tamarind (soaked in 2-3 tbsp warm water)
  • 1 small – medium Onion (sliced)
  • 1 Green chilli sliced
  • 1 tsp Sliced ginger
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tsp Coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp Fennel powder
  • 3/4 -1 cup Medium thick coconut milk
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup Thick coconut milk
  • For tempering
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 4 Small/pearl onion (sliced)
  • 2 Dry red chilli
  • Salt
  • Curry leaves
  • 1/2 – 1 tbsp Coconut oil


  • Add salt to the cleaned and sliced pavakka and gently massage it with your finger tips. Add sliced small onion, green chilli, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder, 1/2 tsp coriander powder and tamarind pulp. Marinate for 15 mins.
    Step 1 Pavakka Puli Curry
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  • Heat coconut oil in a deep chatti/pan. Add sliced onion, sliced green chilli, sliced ginger and curry leaves. Cook till onion browns.
    Step 2 Pavakka Puli Curry
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  • Add 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp fennel powder, 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder, 1 tsp coriander powder. Mix well and cook for 2-3 mins, till oil starts appearing.
    Step 3 Pavakka Puli Curry
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  • Add marinated pavakka pieces. Mix well.
    Step 4 Pavakka Puli Curry
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  • Add medium thick coconut milk, bring it to boil. Reduce flame to lowest and cook for 12-15 mins or till pavakka is done.
    Step 5 Pavakka Puli Curry
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  • Add thick coconut milk and cook for another 3-4 mins on lowest flame. Add tempering and remove from fire.
    Step 6 Pavakka Puli Curry
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  • For tempering: heat 1-2 tsp coconut oil in a small pan. Crackle mustard seeds. add sliced small onion, dry red chilli and curry leaves. Once onion browns, add to the curry. Let the curry rest for 10-15 mins, before serving.
    Step 7 Pavakka Puli Curry
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You can add 2 tsp jaggery powder if you like to add a hint of sweetness to the curry. If using, add it along with thick coconut milk. 
The curry tends to thicken as it rests, so adjust the qty of the gravy accordingly. 
Tried this recipe? Let others know by…mentioning @mariasmenu or tagging #mariasmenu
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1 thought on “Pavakka Puli Curry”

  1. Pavakka (Bitter Gourd) Mango curry tastes similar or better. We at home used to make it in the season. Use mango instead of tamarind, other ingredients are same.


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