Bittergourd masala /Bittergourd curry

Bittergourd , a vegetable hated by many for its taste, but there are many who like this vegetable’s natural taste. I love bittergourd, when cooked perfectly it tastes amazing, pavakai pitalai being my absolute favorite.

I also love a simple pavakai/bitter-gourd curry with coconut and chilies, paired with rasam rice it tastes delish. 

Bittergourd masala

Sometime back, i tried making bittergourd by resting it with salt and then cooking it , which makes the bitter-gourd more palatable.

After trying bittergourd this way, this is the only recipe i follow to make bittergourd. Though it looks a bit tedious process, once you get a hold of it, you can make it in minutes.

Bittergourd curry

I tried making this bitter-gourd masala for my hubby’s dabba, just to check whether it is possible to do, in the morning rush. Yes, it takes around 45 minutes, including the 20 minutes resting of the veggie and shallow-frying it.

Bittergourd subzi

You can pair this bittergourd masala with roti or serve it along with rice and rasam.

Let us see what all you need to make this subzi, 

Bitter-Gourd,   2 long bitter-gourds, which weighs 250 grams, pith removed.
Onion & Tomatoes, onions are optional. Tomatoes gives the curry/subzi the semi-gravy consistency, if tomatoes are avoided it will be like a dry roast.
Spices,  Sambar powder , as it is one of the easily available spice mix in most of the south-indian kitchen.

You can also use equal quantities of red chili and coriander ground together instead of sambar powder.
Curry leaves and Coriander leaves, do not miss these flavor imparting greens. Curry leaves in tadka and coriander as garnish takes the subzi to another level.

How to make Bittergourd masala/Bittergourd subzi with onions and tomatoes

A simple to make subzi with bittergourd/bittermelon. The following recipe, reduces the bitterness in the gourd and makes it delectable. Even small kids would enjoy bittergourd made this way.
5 from 11 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Bittergourd curry, Bittergourd masala, Bittergourd subzi, How to make bittergourd subzi
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 3


  • 2 nos Bittergourds/bittermelons Weighs around 250 grams when pith is removed and chopped
  • 1 no large onion finely chopped
  • 2 no medium tomatoes finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sambar powder or use red chili and coriander powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • Fresh coriander leaves for garnish


  • 1/4 cup oil any vegetable oil
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds/kadugu
  • 1/8 tsp hing/asafoetida
  • a sprig of curry leaf


  • Wash the bittergourd and cut them horizontally into two  and then again vertically into two, remove the pith inside. slice them into roundels.
  • Once cut, sprinkle salt on them and let it rest for a minimum of 20 minutes. While the bittergourd is resting, let us prep the onions and tomatoes. 
  • Chop onions and tomatoes fine. Once the bittergourd has rested for 20 minutes, strain it and give it a quick wash in running water and let it drain completely.
  • In a wide pan, Add oil, add the bittergourd in batches and shallow fry. i did it 2 batches, do not crowd the pan, you can also deep fry it, but i preferred to shallow fry.
  • Let the bittergourd, sizzle and shrink a bit and get a golden brown on them, once done, remove it with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel.
  • In the same pan, add mustard seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves, when the mustard splutter, add the chopped onions and saute until translucent.
  • Next add the tomatoes now to this add turmeric powder, salt  and sambhar powder and mix well. Add 1/4 cup of water, cover and cook for 5 minutes, for the tomatoes to cook well and turn mushy.
  • Remove the cover and if the tomatoes are done, add the fried bittergourd to this and mix well. 
  • Let it sit on the stove for another 3-5 minutes for the flavors to mingle. The consistency should be of a semi-gravy. You can also make this complete dry curry, just let it sit on the stove until the liquid is absorbed.
  • Take it off the stove, garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve along with rice/roti.

I served it part of this delicious thali meal for a weekday lunch. The thali has Rice with ghee, Chana dal Tomato-garlic rasam and karela.

indian thali meal with dal, rice and subzi