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Friday, July 13, 2018

Pavakka (Kaipakka) Paal Curry | Bitter Gourd Coconut Milk Curry(Step by Step Pics)

How many of you like pavakka /kaipakka/bitter gourd/karela?? If yes, please jote down the bitter gourd preparation which you love the most in the comment section. I know many grown ups who don't like even in our family circle. But me and my better half love this veggie like any other vegetables and so invariably have this in my grocery bag. However kids only like pavakka mezhukuparetti but we love all variations made with bitter gourd(pavakka/kaipakka).

Pavakka(Kaipakka)/ Bitter Gourd paal curry is a rich creamy delicacy from Thrissur and my MIL makes it quite often. I had not tasted this curry in our part of Kerala and so had no clues when I first tasted this curry too. However, I liked the taste of this curry with all balanced flavors of mild bitterness, mild spiciness, mildly sour and mild sweet flavors of coconut milk. And so I started making it at home too. .The rich color and the creamy texture of the curry is due to the addition of coconut milk. Vendakka paal curry that I posted earlier is also made in a similar way and tastes good with rice. My MIL doesn't use coconut bits in this curry but I started this as a fond remembrance of pavakka theeyal. Thenga kothu(coconut slices) is an added crunch in this curry along with the soft bitter gourd pieces and shallots.

Preparation time ~ 20 minutes
Cooking time ~ 20 minutes
Serves ~ a small bowl

pavakka/kaipakka /bitter gourd 2 small or one long
inji / ginger shredded 1 tspkunjulli / shallots 10 sliced
pachamulaku / green chillies 2-3 vertical slit
mulakku podi /chilly powder 1 tsp
manjal podi /turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
malli podi/ coriander powder 1tsp
fenugreek powder /uluva podi a good pinch(optional)
thakkali / tomato 2 small chopped or 1 large chopped 
tamarind extract  1 tbsp coconut milk thick 1/2 cup(optional)
coconut milk thin 1.5 cups
curry leaves
*coconut oil 2tbsp
salt to taste

to temper 
coconut pieces sliced 2tbsp (optional)

kaduku/ mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
uluva/ fenugreek seeds 1/4 tsp
vattal mulakku/ red dry chillies 2 broken
curry leaves
*coconut oil 2 tsp

  • Wash and deseed the bitter gourd, cut the bitter gourd in round slices.If you have a very long and thick bitter gourd then cut in halves and then slice it out in small not very thin slices(1/8" thickness). Keep aside,if you wish to reduce the bitterness,then read the 'notes section' and proceed further.
  • Heat a thick bottomed pan and add the coconut oil. Slide in the sliced bitter gourd, add a good pinch of salt. Lower the flame and leave to fry slightly. Wait till its lightly browned(avoid over crowding and preferably arrange in a single layer so that its evenly done).Flip the other side and lightly brown it up,drain in a plate.

  • In the same oil(add more oil if needed), toss the chopped ginger,curry leaves and sliced shallots. Saute until translucent. Now add in the spice powders, chilly powder,turmeric powder and coriander powder. Lower flame and saute until the raw smell disappears.
  • Add in the chopped tomatoes,add about 2tbsp of water.Mix well and cover the pan. Cook covered for two minutes till the tomatoes mash well.
  • To this add the fried bitter gourd pieces and add some water(about 1/2 cup). Add the thin coconut milk,add salt and bring to a boil.Cook covered for 5-7 minutes.

  • Adjust salt and water if needed. Adding water is to prevent thickening of the gravy once the thick coconut milk is added. Add the tamarind extract and cook again for 3-4 minutes. Lower the flame and add the thick coconut milk. Mix well and turn off flame once you see one or two bubbles on the surface of the curry. Add the fenugreek powder(uluva podi),mix well and leave the pan covered. 
  • In another pan,heat the oil and add the sliced coconut pieces. Fry until lightly browned and drain on the curry. In the same oil, splutter mustard seeds,fenugreek seeds, dry red chillies and curry leaves.Switch off flame and pour this over the curry.Keep covered till you serve (as the curry sits it thickens and tastes better as the flavors seep in well and the bitterness is reduced).

* If you wish to bring down the bitter flavors considerably, then drop the sliced bitter gourd pieces in sour yogurt or tamarind water for 15-20 minutes or just simply coat the bitter gourd pieces with salt and leave for 10 minutes. Drain the water,wash the bitter gourd pieces and proceed further like listed above.
* Generally coconut slices are not added to this curry but I prefer to add this as we do add in the theeyal version(roasted coconut version) of this curry. So love that crunch here too.
* Using fenugreek powder and fenugreek seeds is purely optional. It only imparts a nice flavor for coconut milk based curries.
* Try using shallots as they are sweeter compared to regular onions.

* Use 1/2 of a coconut or 1/2 coconut to extract coconut milk.
* Use only coconut oil for this traditional curry for getting the authentic tastes.
* If you are using the vine tomatoes or nadan thakkali(tomato) then you can skip adding the tamarind extract. In that case just add two large tomatoes. But I have used the roma tomatoes which are sweeter and so we need to add a tinge of sour flavors to bring down the bitterness.

* Pavakka Mezhukuparetti(Stir Fry)
* Bharvan Karela(Stuffed Bitter Gourd)
* Pavakka Theeyal (Bittergourd Curry)
* Pavakka Thoran(Bittergourd Stir fry)
* Pavakka Achar(Pickle)

1 comment:

Fullscoops said... Best Blogger Tips

Your right, not many like pavakka! But this looks like a tasty dish. The addition of coconut milk will enhance the flavor and taste of the dish.