Simple Indian Recipes...
Delicious and healthy dishes that can be made even by first timers.

Bitter Gourd Theeyal

- Submitted by Dahlia on 24th Sep 2011

(Kaipakka Theeyal, Pagarkkai Pulikulambu, Pavakkai Puli Curry)

bittergourd theeyal

Bitter Gourd (Kaipakka, Pavakkai) Theeyal is a traditional Kerala dish in which bitter gourd pieces are cooked in a tamarind and roasted coconut sauce. The theeyal gets its unique aroma and taste from the roasted coconut. The tamarind and coconut masks the bitterness of the bitter gourd pieces and makes it delectable even to bitter gourd haters.


  • Bitter gourd- 2 big or 3 small 
  • Shallots (Sambhar Onions) - 5 (chopped)
  • Garlic - 5 cloves (chopped)
  • Tamarind - Gooseberry sized 
  • Grated Coconut - 1/2 cup
  • Coriander Powder - 3 tsp
  • Red Chilly Powder - 2 tsp (or to taste)
  • Turmeric Powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Curry Leaves - 1 spring
  • Coconut Oil -  2 tbsp


  1. Soak the tamarind in warm water and let it soften when you get the other things done. 
  2. Chop the bitter gourd pieces into small cubes or in semi circles.
  3. Dry roast the grated coconut, shallots and garlic cloves on a low flame till it turns golden brown in colour. This may take about 10 minutes.
  4. After it cools a bit, make a smooth paste with little water. Keep this aside.
  5. Heat oil in a kadai and splutter the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and curry leaves. 
  6. Add the bitter gourd pieces and saute for a good 8-10 minutes. This step reduces the bitterness of the gourd considerably.
  7. Add the coriander powder, chilly powder and turmeric powder. Fry for 30 seconds.
  8. Extract the pulp from the soaked tamarind and add it. Add the coconut paste, required amount of water and salt.
  9. After the gravy boils, reduce the flame and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes till oil floats on top.

Serving Suggestions

Tips & Variations

  • Variations of this are made in Tamil nadu, Andra and Karnataka known as pavakkai pulikulambu, kakarakaya pulusu etc. The minor differences in the preparations include - adding channa dal and urad dal while tempering, adding a piece of jaggery to the gravy, skipping the coconut, using gingelly oil instead of coconut oil.
  • Theeyal is traditionally made with many different types of vegetables like shallots (ulli theeyal), okra (vendakka theeyal), brinjal (vazhuthananga theeyal), drumstick (murigakka theeyal), ginger (inghi theeyal), garlic (veluthulli theeyal) etc. Some of the other theeyals that you can make are zucchini theeyal, lotusroot theeyal etc.

More Bitter Gourd Recipes

Sukto Sukto Bitter Gourd Fry Bitter Gourd Fry Bitter Gourd Pitlai Bitter Gourd Pitlai Bitter Gourd Pickle Bitter Gourd Pickle
See more...

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Old Comments

Comment by renuka memba
         madam/sir, naku explain cheyadamu radu, kani me receipe chusi chala nerchukuntunnanu, chala bagundi, meku artificial flowers sunday nerpinchevalu warangal lo thelusthe recommend cheyara plz
Reply :-
             Hi Renuka, I do not know telugu. I got a friend of mine to translate your comment. Thank you for your compliments. I'm not sure what artificial flowers you need? Did you mean vegetable carving?

Comment by sonali raut
        Hi Dear,
        u wont believe its my favourite i like bitter gourd, coz most of the people run away frm this dish coz of bitterness, but it gives us most of the benefits, i would siggest if we add little jaggery so it wil go more delicious like sour, tikha, sweet, what say?????
       ya also i wud like to have recipes of bottle gourd recipes too, i like n it works like medicine.
thx dear for such a gud recipes :)
Reply :-
       Hi Sonali, Thats so nice to hear!! Bittergourd is really a very healthy vegetable. Jaggery would taste awesome!! I have mentioned that under tips. I just stay away from jaggery because we have some diabetic patients in the family.
        Will be posting some bottlegourd recipes soon.

 Published by on and last updated on 2016-09-04.