Paavakai Varuval( Bitter gourd stir fry)

Bitter gourd is known as Paavakai in Tamil and Karela in Hindi.
Due to its bitter taste not many are fond of this vegetable, though it is very rich in minerals and vitamins.

It is an excellent source of vitamins B1, B2, and B3, C, magnesium, folate, zinc, phosphorus, manganese, and has high dietary fiber. It is rich in iron, contains twice the beta-carotene of broccoli, twice the calcium of spinach, and twice the potassium of a banana.
Bitter gourd contains a unique phyto-constituent that has been confirmed to have a hypoglycemic effect called charantin. There is also another insulin-like compound known as polypeptide P which have been suggested as insulin replacement in some diabetic patients.

To lessen the bitter flavor, slice the melon length-wise and scoop out the seeds. Soak it in salt water for about half an hour before juicing/cooking.

My husband and my daughter are fond of bitter gourd. I generally make this crispy stir fry once in two weeks 🙂


Sliced bitter gourd- 2 cups
Gram flour( besan) – 1 tbsp
Rice flour- 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder- 1 tsp
Coriander( dhania) powder- 2 tsps
Salt to taste
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Amchur( dry mango) powder- 1/2 tsp
Oil- 3 tbsps
Mustard- 1 tsp
Urad dal- 1 tsp
Hing( asafoetida)- 1/4th tsp


Soak the sliced bitter gourd in salt water for half an hour.( you can skip this step if you like the bitter taste).
Drain, wash and let it dry for sometime.
Put the bitter gourd in a wide bowl. Add 1 tbsp of oil, salt to taste, red chilli powder, dhania powder, turmeric powder, amchur powder,gram flour and rice flour. Mix very well so that all the slices are coated evenly. Let it marinate for 1 hour.
Heat 2 tbsps of oil in a heavy bottom pan. To the hot oil, add mustard. Once it starts spluttering, add urad dal and hing. Sauté for a minute. Add the marinated bitter gourd slices and mix well. Stir fry on a medium flame till the slices become crisp. Serve hot 🙂


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