19 February 2016

Pavakkai Vada Curry / Bitter Gourd Vada Curry

bitter gourd vada curry

Vada curry is one of my favourite side dish for dosa but unfortunately never thought of making it at home. My Mom used to do it with leftover masala vada. This time I wanted to do it from the scratch. When I thought of adding  vegetables to make it healthier, the vegetable that came to my mind was pavakkai / bitter gourd, the most nutritious vegetable people rarely eat because of its bitterness.

People do add salt to chopped raw pavakkai and squeeze the water out before cooking to reduce the bitterness. Doing so, reduces not only the bitterness but also the nutrients present in them. Instead, cooking pavakkai with tamarind paste will reduce the bitterness. In this recipe I used carrots for added sweetness and also coconut almond paste for more natural sweetness and richness.

I steam cooked the vada instead of deep frying them. It's a great side dish not only for idli and dosa but also goes good with chapatti. Pavakkai / bitter gourd has lots of health benefits.

Pavakkai Vada Curry / Bitter gourd vada curry

No. of Serving : 4

No. of Vada : 12


For Vada

Bengal gram - 1 cup

Pavakkai / bitter gourd - 1 medium

Carrot - 1 small

Onion - 1 medium

Tamarind paste - 1 tbsp (thick paste)

Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp

Red chilli - 2

Fennel seeds - 1/4 tsp

Salt to taste

For Curry

Cloves - 3

Cinnamon 1 inch size stick - 2

Fennel seeds - 1 tsp

Bay leaf - 1

Curry leaves - few

Onion - 2 medium

Tomato - 3 medium

Ginger garlic paste - 1/2 tsp

Red chilli powder - 2 tsp

Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp

Fennel powder - 1/4 tsp

Salt to taste

Coconut - 2 tbsp

Almond / cashew nut - 2 (optional)

Coriander leaves - few finely chopped

bitter gourd vada curry

Preparation Method

For the vada

1. Soak bengal gram for 3 hrs.

2. Grind the soaked bengal gram to a coarse paste with fennel seeds, red chilli, salt, turmeric powder and tamarind paste. Adding tamarind paste when cooking pavakkai / bitter gourd will reduce the bitterness of the gourd.

3. To the ground mixture add finely chopped pavakkai / bitter gourd, grated carrot and finely chopped onion, mix well.

4. Grease idli mould with oil and fill with the vada mixture, steam it for 15 minutes.

5. Cool the vadas and break them into small pieces.

For the Curry

1. Add almonds to boiling water and remove the skin off. Grind it to a smooth thick paste with coconut and keep aside. You can also use cashew nut instead of almond.

2. In a kadai, heat oil and add cloves, cinnamon, fennel seeds and bay leaf.

3. When the fennel seeds begin to crackle, add the curry leaves.

4. Then add finely chopped onions and sauté till the onions turn translucent.

5. Then add ginger garlic paste and sauté till the raw smell goes and a nice aroma comes.

6. Add chopped tomatoes, add required salt and cook till the tomatoes are done.

7. Add chilli powder, turmeric powder and fennel powder and sauté till the raw smell of turmeric goes.

8. Add the ground coconut almond paste, add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil, simmer the flame and let it cook for 10 minutes. Do not cover the kadai with a lid.

9. Turn off the stove and add the broken vada pieces and coriander leaves and mix well.

10. Can be served with set dosa, idli, kal dosa, idiyappam and uthappam.

11. Can be served with chapatti too.


  • Adding tamarind paste in vada will reduce the bitterness of pavakkai.
  • Adding coconut almond paste will reduce the bitterness too.
  • I added carrot for the extra sweetness.
  • People do add salt to chopped raw pavakkai and squeeze the water out before cooking to reduce the bitterness. Doing so, reduces not only the bitterness but also the nutrients  present in them.
  • It tasted delicious and the presence of pavakkai in the vada was not noticeable in taste. You will not know that there is bitter gourd unless informed. Meaning to say, it was not bitter.
  • When cooking, after adding coconut paste or coconut milk do not cover the vessel with the lid, coconut will curdle when cooked with the lid on.

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