Bitter Gourd And Green Tomato Stir Fry / Pavacka Tomato Thoran

We Keralites use many vegetables in our diet.  We can make a stir-fry or a curry out of any vegetable.  This is an internal joke among Keralites, but it is true.  Bitter gourd is widely used in many preparations in Kerala.  The bitter gourd vines climbing on nearby bushes was a natural trellis of my grandparents' backyard garden.  My mom used to plant bitter gourd all the time in her garden.  I grew up eating this bitter vegetable, so I was okay handling the bitterness.  My grandma used to make stir fry with bitter gourd and she used to add green mango in the stir-fry to reduce the bitterness.  The green mango and the bitter gourd combo worked very well to balance the taste of the stir-fry.  My mom makes an alternative preparation of bitter gourd.  She mixes it with green tomatoes in the stir-fry when they are in abundance during summer.  I started making this for my kids and they started loving it too. 

Bitter gourd grows on climbing vines.  They have many health benefits. 
- They are excellent source of Vitamins B1, B2, B3, C, magnesium, folate, zinc, phosphorus, and manganese. 
- They have plenty of dietary fiber and are rich in iron and beta-carotene.
- They have a protein called polypeptide P that helps to control blood sugar and hence used by diabetic patients in their diets. 
- They act as blood purifiers and helps to lose weight.
- Bitter  gourd stimulates digestion

I started growing the bitter gourd in my backyard summer garden for the last few years.  The South Indian variety of bitter gourd is white in color, the North Indian version is darker green.  There are many different varieties available now in Asian markets.  The white bitter gourd is less bitter when compared to the green ones. 

Here are some pictures of bitter gourd, green chilies and tomatoes from my garden. 

When green tomatoes and bitter gourds are readily available in my garden during summer, I make this stir-fry.  The food made out of the freshly picked organic vegetables is really worth all the effort you put into your backyard garden.  Hope you will try this preparation of bitter gourd and let me know how it turns out for you.

2 - medium sized bitter gourd deseeded and chopped
2 - green tomatoes chopped (slightly lengthwise)
1 - medium size onion chopped
4 - green chilies chopped
2 cups - grated coconut fresh/frozen
1 clove - garlic
1/2 tsp - turmeric powder
1/2 tsp - mustard seeds
1 - 2 tbsp - coconut oil
salt to taste
1 sprig curry leaves

  • Using a mortor and pestle to crush the garlic and process the coconut and turmeric to just mix well.  You could also use a food processor to mix them well.
  • Heat a pan with 2 tbsp of oil.  Add the mustard seeds and wait to splutter.  Add the chopped onions, chilies and salt and saute for a minute.
  • Once the onions are light golden brown, add the chopped green tomatoes to it and saute till the water evaporates.
  • Its time to add the chopped bitter gourd and mix well.  Adjust the salt now.  
  • Make a well in the mix of tomato and bitter gourd and add the processed coconut garlic mixture into the middle.  Cover the coconut with tomato, bitter gourd mix and lower the flame.  Cover the lid and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Open the lid and check if the vegetables are cooked well, if not, cook for another minute.  Make sure its not overcooked.
  • Add the curry leaves to the stir fry and saute till all the moisture is evaporated well.  Turn off the flame.
  • Enjoy the Bitter Gourd Tomato Stir fry with steamed rice, plain yogurt and some mango pickle.
  • Make sure to evaporate all the water from tomatoes before you add the bitter gourd.
  • Chopping the bitter gourd into very small pieces helps to cook it faster.

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