Kerala-style bitter gourd curry: Easy recipe (no bitterness!)

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 3 to 4



1 cup bitter gourd (sliced)

3 tbsp tamarind syrup

3 tbsp cooking oil

½ tsp cumin seeds

1 cup onion (finely chopped)

2 green chillies (finely chopped)

2 sprigs curry leaves

1 tsp ginger-garlic paste (equal measures)

¼ tsp turmeric powder

1 cup tomato (finely chopped)

1 ½ tsp red chilli powder

1 tsp coriander powder

½ tsp fennel powder

½ tsp vegetable masala

½ tsp garam masala

2 tbsp yoghurt

¾ cup water

½ tsp mustard seeds

3 dried red chillies

Salt to taste




Step 1:

Cut the bitter gourd in half to remove the seeds, then slice it.


Step 2:

Transfer the bitter gourd slices into a bowl and add one to two teaspoons of salt. Mix well, cover, and let it rest for 20 minutes.


Step 3:

Soak tamarind in 100 ml of water for some time, then extract the juice.


Step 4:

Boil water in a pan and add the bitter gourd. Add two to three tablespoons of tamarind extract and two teaspoons of salt. Boil for three minutes to reduce the bitterness of the bitter gourd. Strain the water and set the bitter gourd aside.


Step 5:

Heat two tablespoons of oil in a pan. Add ½ teaspoon of cumin seeds and sauté for a few seconds. Add chopped onion, a bit of salt, chopped green chillies, and curry leaves. Sauté until the onion turns golden.


Step 6:

Add ginger-garlic paste and sauté for a minute or until the raw smell dissipates. Add turmeric powder and mix well.


Step 7:

Add chopped tomato and sauté until the tomato turns soft. Add red chilli powder and coriander powder. Sauté until the raw smell dissipates.


Step 8:

Reduce the flame to low and add fennel powder, vegetable masala, and garam masala. Continue stirring until the oil starts to separate from the masala.


Step 9:

Now add yoghurt and combine well.


Step 10:

Add the boiled bitter gourd and mix well with the masala. Add salt, if required.


Step 11:

Add ¾ cup water, mix well, cover, and cook over a medium flame for five minutes.


Step 12:

In a pan, heat one tablespoon of oil. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. Then, reduce the heat to low and add the dried red chilies and curry leaves, and sauté for one to two seconds. Finally, pour the tempered oil over the curry.  Now, your bitter gourd curry is ready to be served.


Note: Instead of Malabar tamarind, you can also use garcinia cambogia (kudam puli) to make the extract.

Sobha Varghese is a homemaker based in Mumbai, India. Sobha runs a popular YouTube blog called ‘Sobha's Kitchenette’ that focuses on authentic and traditional Kerala recipes.

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