Pagarkai Varuval

Here’s a very quick recipe for all pagarkai/bitter-gourd lovers! It’s one of my favorite way to prepare this vegetable as it’s easy to prepare and goes so well with Sambar or Rasam rice! Its taste is very close to pagarkai fry but consumes lesser oil in comparison!



  • 4 pagarkais/bitter-gourds
  • 2 tsp chilly powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tbsp coriander powder
  • Salt to taste (extra salt to soak the sliced vegetable)
  • 3 tbsp oil


  • Slice the pagarkai and soak it in salt water for 15 mins. Drain the water just before cooking.
  • In a frying pan, pour oil, when medium hot, add the vegetable. Lower the flame and allow it to gradually cook, sauteing it once in five mins.
  • Once the vegetable reduces to half it’s earlier quantity, add salt, turmeric powder, chilly powder and coriander powder. Give it a good mix.
  • Cook for another five mins and your varuval is ready!

More pagarkai recipes here and here =)


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.

Simple Pagarkai Fry

This is a very easy and quick side dish that you can enjoy on a lazy afternoon with either sambar, rasam or just simple curd rice! Even a person who detests bitter-gourd will fall for this simple fry. The Telugus prefer this fry made with besan flour! But my taste buds prefer the simple version. So here you go!



  • 4 bitter-gourds
  • Oil to fry
  • 1 tbsp sambar powder (I used Aashirvaad sambar podi)
  • Salt to taste


  • Slice the bitter-gourd into approx 4mm slices (I don’t like it to be cut super fine because once you fry it, it will loose it’s taste) and soak it in a bowl of salt water for 10 mins (this, they say, will remove the bitterness!).
  • Heat oil in a frying pan and deep fry the bitter-gourd.
  • Remove when it just turns light brown. (I prefer my fries not too crispy with the original taste of the vegetable still lingering!)
  • Once the fries cool down, mix it with the sambar powder and salt. If you do not have sambar powder, just chilly powder would do!