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Pavakka Theeyal - Bitter Melon Curry

Pavakka Theeyal - Bitter Melon Curry

Bitter melon or pavakka is cooked in a spiced coconut-ty tamarind based sauce to make this thick curry of Theeyal which is an integral component of the massive Kerala style festival feast of Sadya.
Course Sides
Cuisine Indian, Indian - Kerala, Indian - South Indian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 519kcal
Author Manju


  • 2 bitter melon / bitter gourd cut vertically in half, seeds and flesh scooped out and sliced
  • 2 tbsp tamarind
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • salt to taste

To roast and grind to a paste

For tempering


  • Soak the tamarind in 1 cup water, squeeze out the pulp. Strain and pour into a deep pan. Repeat with ½ cup water two more times.
  • Heat the 1 tsp coconut oil and add the bitter melon to it. Sauté till it softens a little. Add the turmeric powder, salt and the tamarind water and bring to a boil. Cook over medium heat till the bitter melon are cooked and soft.
  • Meanwhile, roast the coconut along with the red chillies, pearl onions and coriander seeds over low-medium heat till the coconut becomes light brown in color throughout. Keep stirring, as you don’t want part of the coconut burnt and part of it not toasted at all.
  • Let it cool and grind to a very fine paste in a food processor or an Indian style mixie, with a little water to help grind better.
  • Pour this out to the pan on the stove with the tamarind and bitter melon
  • Mix well and let it come to a boil.
  • Heat the coconut oil for tempering, add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Add curry leaves and pour it over the curry.
  • Serve hot with rice.


Calories: 519kcal | Carbohydrates: 89g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Sodium: 186mg | Potassium: 1762mg | Fiber: 18g | Sugar: 48g | Vitamin A: 2855IU | Vitamin C: 570.2mg | Calcium: 307mg | Iron: 7.3mg