Pavakka Theeyal / Bitter Gourd Theeyal

Pavakka Theeyal / Bitter Gourd Theeyal


1. Bitter gourd / Pavakka – 2 medium, cut into two lengthwise and thinly sliced

    Pearl onions(kunjulli) – 1/2 cup, halved

2. Grated coconut – 1.5 – 2 cups

3. Chilly Powder – 2 tsp
    Coriander Powder –  2 – 3 tsp

     Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp 
      Fenugreek powder – 1/4 tsp


4. Green chilies – 3 – 4, slit

5. Curry leaves – 1 – 2 sprigs

6. Tamarind – lemon-sized or to taste

7. Salt -  To taste
8. Coconut oil – 1.5 – 2 tbsp

For the Seasoning

9. Coconut oil – 1.5 tsp

10. Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp

11. Few curry leaves

12. Dry red chilies – 2


1. Soak tamarind in 1/4 cup lukewarm water. Extract its juice and keep aside.

2. Fry the grated coconut in a pan till it becomes brown, stirring continuously, at medium heat. Lower the heat and add the  spice powders, numbered 3, and stir for a few seconds. Make sure not to burn them. Set aside to cool. Grind to a very fine paste without adding water (If its really difficult to grind, you can add a little water). Set aside.

3. Heat oil in a pan, at medium heat. Add the sliced pavakka pieces, sliced pearl onions, green chilies, few curry leaves and saute until the pavakka pieces are half done or until its raw taste is gone. Add tamarind extract, enough water (just to cover the bitter gourd pieces) and  salt. Bring to a boil and then add roasted coconut paste. Lower the heat and cook until the pavakka is done and the gravy thickens.

4. In a small pan, heat coconut oil and splutter mustard seeds. Fry dry red chillies and curry leaves. Pour this over the curry. Mix well. Set aside for 10 minutes. Serve hot with rice.


1. Bitter gourd can be replaced with egg plant for egg plant / vazhuthananga theeyal (slice them into 1” pieces). You could also prepare theeyal with snake gourd (padavalanga), pearl onions (ulli), drumstick (muringakka), elephant yam (chena) etc. In case of snake gourd, drumstick and chena theeyal, you don’t need to saute the pieces in oil. Just cook the pieces in enough water, sliced pearl onions, turmeric powder, salt, tamarind extract, curry leaves etc and add ground coconut paste when done and pour the seasoning.

2. You can avoid pearl onions if you are preparing it for sadya.

Maya Akhil

Wife, Mother, Blogger and above all, an ardent lover of good food. I cook, serve, and eat with almost the same passion. The divine aroma that fills the kitchen when I cook or bake is simply what keeps me going!

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