Pagarkai Puli Kulambu

I remember so well, back in our college hostel this kulambu used to be served every Wednesday along with huge apalams and veg curries. We were a gang of eight friends and I was the only soul who used to enjoy it. The rest were not too fond of bitter-gourd. So this recipe goes to all who share my taste in food!




  • 3 pagarkai/bitter-gourds sliced and soaked in salt water
  • 10 chinna vengayam/shallots
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 4 dry red chilli
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp coriander powder
  • Few curry leaves
  • A small lemon size tamarind soaked in water
  • 3 tbsp gingelly oil
  • Salt to taste


  •  In a wok, pour oil and fry the pagarkai until it turn light golden brown. Move it to a side.
  • Add mustard, cumin, fenugreek seeds and dry chillies to the same oil. As it begins to splutter, add the shallots and garlic. Saute until the onions become transparent and slightly golden.
  • Now add the tomatoes and a little salt to the shallots. Saute including the pagarkai.
  • Once the tomatoes are cooked and the oil surfaces, add the curry leaves, chilli, coriander and turmeric powder. Give it a good mix.
  • Strain the tamarind and pour the concentrate.
  • Add two cups of water and salt. Let the kulambu boil and reduce to a consistency of your liking.

I prefer this Kulambu with apalams or vathal and an omelette. It also goes well with simple veggies like ladies finger or cabbage.


5 thoughts on “Pagarkai Puli Kulambu

  1. Hi Michelle, a good recipe, I usually add 1/8 or 1/4 tsp of jaggery or sugar just before taking it off the stove, and it tastes good. Got this tip from a maami friend of mine.

  2. Hey Michelle, tried this today… Loved it…. Thanks for the recipe. (I also added some sugar to cut down the bitterness)

  3. Pingback: Pagarkai Varuval | Right From Mj's Kitchen

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