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Pavakkai thokku recipe
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Pavakkai thokku recipe

Easy, tasty bitter gourd thokku, pairs well with rice and chapati
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Lunch, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Author: Jeyashri suresh


  • 2.5 cups Bitter gourd chopped
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Tomato
  • 4-5 cloves Garlic
  • 3 tsp Sambar powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt as needed
  • 3 tblsp sesame oil
  • 3 tblsp thick tamarind extract
  • ½ tsp Mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp methi seeds
  • Jaggery a small piece
  • Curry leaves few


  • Wash the bitter gourd and slice it into thin semi circles.
  • In a pan add 2 tblsp of sesame oil and cook the bitter gourd. I added little salt to this while cooking.
  • Cook in a medium flame till it becomes soft.
  • This took around 15 minutes.
  • Take it out and keep aside.
  • In the same pan add 1 tblsp oil and add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and venthayam (methi seeds).
  • When the mustard crackles add the finely chopped onion.
  • Saute till it becomes translucent.
  • Add 4 garlic cloves. I just sliced it lengthwise as they were slightly big.
  • Saute for a minute.
  • Add 1 finely chopped tomato. Mix well.
  • Now we can add the sambar powder, turmeric powder and salt.
  • Throw in the curry leaves.
  • You can add red chili powder and coriander powder in the ratio of 2:1 instead of sambar powder.
  • Mix well and add ¼ cup of water.
  • Let this cook for 5-7 minutes till the oil oozes out and the raw smell of the powder goes off.
  • Now add in the cooked bitter gourd.
  • Along with this add the tamarind extract. This will reduce the bitterness of the pavakkai.
  • Check for salt.
  • Add 1 small piece of jaggery. This will balance the taste.
  • Mix everything well and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Switch off the flame.
  • Serve pavakkai thokku with hot rice or sambar sadam or roti too


1 The tomato and tamarind extract reduces the bitterness of the pavakkai.
2.You can add garam masala to the pavakkai thokku.