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Crispy Hot Karela Curry / Crispy Hot Bitter Gourd Roast / Paavakkai Poriyal

November 25, 2014

Bitter Gourd or Karela (hindi)/Paavakkai (tamil) is one bitter vegetable which is full of too much of goodness and medicinal properties. Drinking Karela juice a glass everyday is believed to avert diabetes as per Ayurveda. And for diabetics karela helps in keeping the condition in control.

I am giving here the usual way we make Karela/Bittergourd Madrasi style:


Bitter Gourd/Karela/Paavakkai – 500 gm

Onion -1

Tomato – 1

Garlic – 1 or 2 pods crushed

Curry leaves for garnishing

Red chilli powder – 3 tsp, Coriander (dhania) powder  -3 tsp (I use alternately Madras sambhar or curry powder 3 tsp – this is a mix of both red chili & dhania/coriander powder)

Turmeric powder – a pinch

For tempering: 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp jeera/cumin seeds

Oil – 1 tbsp




1. Rinse the bitter gourd/karela/paavakkai thoroughly in running water and keep aside.

2. Grate the onion, tomato.

3. How to slice the bittergourd/karela: Karela has tough seeds sometimes, soft other times. If the seed is soft, leave it, don’t throw it away. However if the seed is pronounced, cut the karela open vertically (as shown in the picture) into 2 sides. Scoop out the seeds. Then cut the sides ring-like, like half discs.

4. Heat a wok/kadai/shallow pan and add oil to it. Just when the oil starts smoking, add the mustard seeds and cumin/jeera seeds to temper.

5. When the seeds flutter, add the chopped onion and crushed garlic first and saute.

6. When the onion starts turning golden brown, add the tomatoes and curry leaves and keep stirring.

7. Add the chopped karela/bittergourd/paavakkai next stirring all the time on low flame.

8. Add the red chili/coriander seeds (dhania) powder or alternately the Madras Sambhar powder and turmeric powder and salt and mix well.

9. Sprinkle water if necessary but the vegetable will water, so there is really no need.

10.Sprinkle a tsp of oil if you want to make the dish more crispy.

11. Keep stir-frying in low flame and let the karela cook to golden crispiness ever so slowly.

12. Do not close the lid while cooking.

13. Switch off and we have Crispy Karela Curry or crispy pavakkai curry or Crispy Bitter Gourd Toast ready to serve. Believe me, the bitterness is bearable and at times welcome in the world of overwhelmingly yummy food you may otherwise get served (by hardworking wives like me for instance me lolz) 🙂

14. This serves about 3 people.


Note: Generally many rinse the karela many times in hot water to dilute its bitterness but i am against the idea. With all nutrition emptied into the rinsed water what is the use of eating Karela then.

I have already posted a recipe to make a sweet karela/bitter gourd curry earlier using a healthy sweetening agent – the natural jaggery. If you are not a diabetic, this is a delicious way to add Karela to your life regularly.

But whether or not you are a diabetic, if you want to avoid sugar and at the same time retain the bitter goodness of Karela, cook Karela this way where its golden crispiness masks effectively the bitter taste to an extent. I would say, experiencing the bitterness of Karela in itself is an experience. We have to know all the tastes of nature!

Copy-paste from somewhere:

A healthy and balanced diet should comprise all the six tastes-sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. Generally we eat foods that have sweet, sour, salty and astringent tastes, but not those that have bitter and pungent tastes. Karela has these two tastes. 

Which is why Karela is a must in our regular diet.

I regularly add Karela this way in our family menu but so far have not got a complaint. (Even if they complain, i won’t leave them without eating my vegetable!!!)  Make the dish maximum crispy as if this is a packet of potato chips. The trick lies in slow roasting on very low flame for about 30 min.



From → Vegetarian

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