Pavakkai Varuval/ Bitter Gourd Stir Fry

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Pavakkai Varuval

Pavakkai also known as Karela in Hindi and kakarakaya in Telugu is a less preferred vegetable in most households but it is a favorite of my husband and daughter.
Bitter gourds are very low in calories but dense with precious nutrients. It is an excellent source of vitamins B1, B2, and B3, C, magnesium, folic acid, zinc, phosphorus, manganese, and has high dietary fiber. It is rich in iron, contains twice the beta-carotene of broccoli, twice the calcium of spinach, and twice the potassium of a banana.
Bitter melon contains a unique phyto-constituent that has been confirmed to have a hypoglycemic effect called charantin. There is also another insulin-like compound known as polypeptide P which have been suggested as insulin replacement in some diabetic patients.
Bitter gourd is available year round in most Indian stores and I try to make them often. Today`s recipe is a simple varuval/stir fry with finely sliced Pavakkai sautéed with onions, chilli powder and jaggery. The ingredients are simple but it takes time and patience to get this Varuval right.

Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 40 min
Serves: 3

  1. 3 cups finely sliced Pavakkai
  2. ½ cup finely chopped onions
  3. few curry leaves
  4. 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  5. 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  6. 1 tablespoon jaggery
  7. salt to taste
  8. 4 to 5 tablespoon oil
  1. Heat oil in a kadai and add the sliced Pavakkai. 
  2. On medium heat keep sautéing until the Pavakkai is cooked and it gets crisp. (approx 15 minutes)
  3. Now add the onions and curry leaves. Sauté on medium heat for another 10 minutes.
  4. Now add the rest of the powders and sauté for another 5 minutes.
  5. To this add the salt and jaggery and mix well. Keep stirring till the jaggery melts and combines well.
  6. Bring to low heat and stir occasionally for about another 10 minutes.
Serve with Rice and Sambar.
TIPS:  I cut the Pavakkai lengthwise and removed the seeds and cut them into two and sliced into thin slices. If the bitter gourd is tender then the seeds need not be removed. I keep stirring for longer time to ensure overall cooking and the spices to blend well. 


  1. Nice varuval. I like to taste this bitterness in this poriyal

  2. lovely delicious and crispy stir fry.

  3. Yummy recipe..bookmarked


  4. I am really drooling here. Just realized that it has been a while since i made karela. time to get some and grow some.

  5. Healthy veggiee, luv this veggie, looks and sounds yumm

  6. Healthy recipe, but not a big fan of bitter gourd. Want to try ur recipe. YUM!

  7. I don't like pavakka but I like varuval made with it though

  8. This looks very yummy n delicious..loved it


  9. healthy fry...i love pavakkai fry...weekly once i do it!!!nice presentation n pic dear!

  10. This is one fantastic varuval for bitter gourd lovers. I make this often. I chop the gourds a little bit smaller and also add some garlic and a tiny bit of cumin powder.

  11. I too make the same way. its my fav :) clicks are beautiful :)

  12. I love karela and make it using similar ingredients. I sometimes double the quantity of onions which gives sweetness to it. Beautiful pictures!

  13. I used to hate pavakka as a child, but now I miss it so much. I love pavakka fried with lots of onions, your curry looks delicious!

  14. sounds new and healthy too and looking delicious..

  15. nice pics and it looks delicious

  16. Not a big fan of this veggie and I literally cry to eat when my mom used to compel me ;) But hubby loves a lot, though I wont cook at home, he eats when we go to our parents home :)Nice recipe...

  17. Nice recipe, looks so delicious n beautiful presentation.

  18. first time in your space....bitter gourd is one of my favorites....this stir fry looks absolutely delicious n yum......u hav a wonderful space....glad to follow visit my space in ur free time :-)

  19. perfectly done and beautifuly presented stir fry..loved your thali and the clicks !!!

  20. stir fry looks awesome..first time here and loved your space totally..glad to follow u dear!! :)


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