Pagarkai KaaraKozhambu – Kaakarkaya Kaaram Pulusu – Bitter Gourd Spicy Curry

Pagarkai Kaara Kozhambu - Kaakarkaya Kaaram Pulusu - Bitter Gourd Spicy Curry
My husband is a fan of bitter Gourd and I try to make it in as many ways as possible, from slow frying to stuffing and everything in between. My favorite is a gravy recipe which is tangy, spicy and masks the bitterness.

I love the Kaarakozhambu my mom makes and though I haven’t reached her level of perfection, I have done my best. In the usual recipe, coconut milk or ground poppy seeds are added for thickness. I added almonds for thickness, in an attempt to cut down the unwanted cholesterol and my tastebuds did not complain!

Whenever I make bittergourd, I cut it up, add lots of salt and let it sit for about 30 minutes. After that, I rinse it with lots of water. This way, some of the bitterness is lost.

Here is the recipe:


Bitter Gourd – 2
Onion – 3/4 of a big onion
Tomato – 1 big
Garlic Flakes – 4 big ones
Tamarind – A big lemon sized ball

Sugar/Jaggery/Brown Sugar – A pinch or two

Oil – 1 Tablespoon

Mustard Seeds – 1 Teaspoon
Urad Dal – 1 Teaspoon
Fenugreek Seeds – A pinch
Jeera – 1 Teaspoon
Curry Leaves – 6

Turmeric – A pinch
Chilli Powder – 3 to 4 Teaspoons
Dhaniya Powder – 2 to 3 Teaspoons
Blanched Almonds – 6

Soak tamarind in a little water and extract the juice.

Grind Onion, Tomato, Garlic and Almonds coarsely. Heat oil in a saucepan and add mustard seeds, jeera and urad dal. After the mustard seeds splutter, add fenugreek seeds and curry leaves. Take care not to brown the fenugreek seeds. Add the ground onion – tomato mixture and cook till the raw smell disappears. Add the bitter gourd pieces, salt, turmeric, chilli powder and dhaniya powder. Cook till the bitter gourd is done. Add the tamarind extract, sugar and cook till the gravy reaches a thick consistency. Remove from heat and garnish with coriander.

There is another variation to this dish which is as follows:

1. Grind almonds to a fine paste with a little water.
2. Finely dice onion + tomato and crush the garlic.
3. After the seasoning, saute onion + tomato till the tomato breaks down.
4. Add bitter groud + garlic + Salt + Dhaniya Powder + Chilli Powder and saute for a couple of minutes more.
5. Add the almond paste, tamarind extract, sugar and enough water to cook the bitter gourd.
6. Simmer till the curry reaches gravy consistency.
7. Remove from heat and garnish with coriander.

This is my entry to the Curry Mela hosted by Anthony of Anthony’s Kitchen.

8 thoughts on “Pagarkai KaaraKozhambu – Kaakarkaya Kaaram Pulusu – Bitter Gourd Spicy Curry

  1. Hi Chandrika,Paagarkai kaara kozhambu looks yummy. very nice picture and makes me hungry..Nice idea of using Almonds instead of coconut.. I also use coconut for this kozhambu.thanks for the recipe.


  2. You are welcome, Prema!Shynee, do give it a try and let me know…You are welcome, Priya…I keep checking your blog often…You have a good one…Ya Vaishali, whenever I can I subsitute cocomut with almonds..to reduce cholesterol…and thank you very much!Priya, I get bitter gourd in NJ, in Indian stores…


  3. This is the best bitter gourd recipe ever! I tried this last week and was a big hit. I had a friend over for dinner too. All of us were totally bowled out!


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