Saturday, February 13, 2021



Bitter gourd is frequently used in my cooking at home . I use it a lot because though it is bitter as the name suggests, we find it to be very tasty and of course it has many health benefits. It is very strong in Vitamins A and C and helps reduce blood sugar. It is commonly available all over India and is known as Haggalakai in Kannada, Pavakkai in Tamil, Karela in Hindi, and Kaarathe in my mother tongue, Konkani.

Elsewhere in this blog, you will find recipes for dishes made with bitter gourd, such as :- 

Today's recipe is from Andhra cuisine and gets it's name from Kakarakaya or Bitter Gourd in Telugu and Pulusu which is a Tamarind-based gravy. I have adapted this from Kakarakaya Pulusu from the well-known website Hebbar's Kitchen. 

I have preferred to keep this dish semi-dry but please adjust the consistency - adding more water while cooking it - to meet your requirements. 

We enjoyed this dish very much and hope you will, too! 

  • Bitter Gourd, about 200 gms
  • Tamarind, size of a lemon, 
  • Small sized Onion, 1
  • Ginger Garlic Paste, 1 tsp
  • Turmeric Powder, 1/4 tsp
  • Jaggery, grated, 1 tbsp
  • Salt,  to taste 
  • Coriander Leaves, finely chopped, 2 tbsp for garnish
To Be Dry Roasted & Ground To A Masala Powder :-
  • Peanuts, 2 tbsp
  • Sesame (Til)  2 tbsp
  • Chana Dal, 1 tsp
  • Urad Dal, 1 tsp
  • Cumin Seeds, 1 tsp
  • Coriander Seeds, 1 tsp
  • Fenugreek (Methi) Seeds, 1/4 tsp
  • Byadgi Red Chillis, 4
For Seasoning:-
  • Mustard Seeds , 1 tsp
  • Urad Dal, 1 tsp
  • Chana Dal, 1 tsp
  • Cumin Seeds, 1/2 tsp
  • Asafoetida (Hing), 1/8 tsp 
  • Dry Red Chilli, 1, broken into halves
  • Oil, 3 tbsp


Wash the bitter gourd, snip off the two ends, cut the bitter gourd into roundels and remove the seeds 
Apply salt to the bitter gourd and keep aside for half an hour
Peel and chop the onion 
Soak the tamarind in 1 cup of warm water for about 15 minutes and extract the juice. Keep aside.
In a thick-bottomed kadhai, dry roast the peanuts till they change colour,
Add the sesame seeds, chana dal, urad dal, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, methi seeds and Byadgi Red Chillies and roast on low flame till the dals change colour and the spices give off a good aroma 
Allow the roasted ingredients to cool and then transfer to a small mixer jar and grind to a fine powder. This forms the Masala Powder. Keep aside.
After half an hour of being kept with salt, squeeze out the juice from the bitter gourd 
In the same kadhai, heat 3 tbsp oil and fry the bitter gourd roundels on medium/low flame till they turn golden in colour. Keep aside.
In the remaining oil, do the seasoning by adding the mustard seeds, urad dal, chana dal, cumin seeds, asafoetida, and dry red chilli 
Once the mustard and cumin seeds splutter and the dal change colour, add the chopped onion and sauté till it becomes translucent
To this add the ginger garlic paste and sauté till the raw smell goes
Now add the fried bitter gourd, turmeric powder, and salt and mix well
Add the prepared masala powder and mix well
Next add 1 cup of tamarind extract, grated jaggery and mix well 
Add water as required to get the desired consistency and bring to a boil
Lower the flame and cover and cook for about 5 minutes or till the oil separates
Switch off the gas
Lastly, garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves
Serve Kakarakaya Pulusu with hot steamed rice 

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