How to Make Bitter Gourd (Hagala Kayi) Chutney
An Authentic Indian Curry
I have fond memories of my mother's bitter gourd chutney. Her miraculous hands made the most decadent foods in a cost-conscious way. She used very few ingredients; her recipes were simple yet always very delicious. This bitter gourd chutney is one of the recipes that I inherited from her.
This chutney is not at all bitter—it is like any other vegetable chutney. But yes, It has the distinct flavor of bitter gourd. This chutney is a wonderful side dish that goes well with boiled rice or pancakes. Let me share the recipe with you.
This chutney needs to be more spicy, salty, and sour than other chutneys in order to have a balanced taste. Use slightly larger amounts of chilies, tamarind, and salt than you would in a typical chutney. This combination comes out so well that you won't notice the slight bitterness!
- 1 1/2 cups bitter gourd, finely chopped after removing the fibrous innards and seeds
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 1/2 tsp white lentil, or de-husked split black lentil
- 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
- 2 pinches hing (asafoetida powder)
- 6–7 dry red chilies, moderate hot variety, broken
- 6 curry leaves
- 2–3 tsp oil, (preferably coconut but feel free to substitute another)
- 2 tsp jaggery powder
- 2 cups coconut, grated
- 1 small lemon-size tamarind, soaked in very little water
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- Wash the bitter gourd and remove and discard the fibrous inner parts. Chop what remains of the gourd and put the pieces in a bowl. Add the salt and turmeric powder, mix well, and set aside for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, mix once again. Squeeze the bitter gourd pieces by tightly holding them inside your palm. This is how you remove the bitter water from them. Set the pieces aside.
- Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a deep-bottomed pan. Add the sesame seeds and white lentils and sauté them until they turn golden-brown. Throw in the broken dry red chilies, curry leaves, coriander seeds, and hing powder. Sauté for 30 seconds.
- Add the grated coconut to the same pan. Mix it together and fry over a very low fire to make the coconut a bit crispy. You should smell the very nice aroma of the fried coconut. Turn off the fire and transfer the contents to a steel plate. Set it aside to cool.
- In the same pan, add the remaining oil and the bitter gourd. Sauté for about 8–9 minutes or until the bitter gourd shrinks, becoming dry and fried. Turn off the stove and set aside cool.
- Put the fried mix and cooked bitter gourd in a mixer or grinder. Add the jaggery powder, soaked tamarind, and salt. Grind while adding water little by little to get a near-smooth, semi-solid sauce. Check the taste and add salt if necessary. Mix well.
- Your bitter gourd (hagala kayi) chutney is ready to serve! Enjoy with boiled rice or pancakes. Use it as a side dish for lunch or dinner. This chutney is tangy, sweet, and spicy all in one with a nice flavor of bitter gourd.