Bitter Gourd/Pavacka Pickle

This year, I planted couple of bitter gourd plants in containers and put up a trellis next to my patio railing.  It was an experiment.  But to my surprise, those plants produced many bitter gourds.  They are thriving better and putting on lots of flowers in the last few weeks.  But the weather is cooling down.  Soon they will be wilting and turning yellow for the fall.

We made a road trip to Southern states from New Orleans to Texas last month.  It felt like mini India when we got to Houston.  Many houses had long beans and bitter gourds climbed up on their fences creating a canopy.  Years ago I had a great bitter gourd harvest with similar canopy in my backyard garden.  Since then, they were not doing good because of the bad quality of the seeds I had.  This year I got some good seeds from my parents and they sure did work.

I am not a big fan of bitter gourd, but my husband likes it.  So I usually fry them for him.  This time I made some pickle out of it and it came out really delicious.  I had my friends taste test the pickle and approve it.  So I am sharing the recipe here.

Yields - 16 oz bottle


For Marination

5 - medium size bitter gourd

1.5 tsp - salt

2 tbsp - vinegar

Oil for shallow fry

Other Ingredients

1/4 cup - sesame oil/vegetable oil

1/2 tsp - mustard seeds

20 cloves - garlic cut into slices

1 tbsp - ginger chopped/cut into thin pieces

3 - green chili splits

1/2 tsp - turmeric powder

2 tsp - Kashmiri Chili powder (heaped tsp)

1 tsp - hot chili powder

1/4 tsp - fenugreek powder

1/2 tsp - asafoetida powder

2 tbsp - vinegar

1 - 2 tbsp - tamarind paste (optional)

1 tbsp - jaggery

2 sprigs - fresh curry leaves


  • Remove the seeds of bitter gourd and cut them into thin slices.
  • Add salt and vinegar to the bitter gourd and mix well and leave it for 1 - 2 hours for the moisture to drain out.  After 2 hours squeeze out the juice of the bitter gourd.
  • Shallow fry the bitter gourd in a kadai/non stick pan and drain them on a paper towel.  Remove the oil from the pan and clean the pan/kadai using a paper towel.
  • In the same pan, add 1/4 cup of oil and splutter the mustard seeds.  Fry the garlic and ginger pieces till light golden color.  Add the green chili splits and cook for another minute.  Lower the flame and add the chili powders, turmeric powder, fenugreek powder and asafoetida powder and cook till the raw smell of the spices goes away.  Add the salt, vinegar and tamarind paste and mix well.  
  • Add the bitter gourd pieces and mix well.  Adjust the salt and add curry leaves.  Finally add the jaggery powder to adjust the bitterness.  Turn off the flame and let  the pickle cool down.
  • Transfer the pickle to a sterilized bottle and store it in the refrigerator.

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