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How to Make Bitter Gourd Stir-Fry (Hagalakai Palya)

I like to cook and eat natural, healthy, and tasty foods, and I enjoy sharing recipes from my native Indian cuisine.

Bitter gourd stir-fry.

Bitter gourd stir-fry.

A Delicious Side Dish Packed With Nutrients

Bitter gourd is a delicious vegetable that is slightly bitter. If you cook it in the right way, however, you can minimize its bitterness. In this stir-fry recipe, you won't taste any bitterness at all.

This vegetable is popularly known as a medicinal vegetable. People often eat it for its health benefits, including vitamin C, calcium, and dietary fiber. It is also believed that it may help lower blood sugar levels, improve respiratory health, and possibly boost skin health.

How to Reduce the Bitterness of Bitter Gourd

Immersing freshly cut bitter gourd slices in a mixture of salt and sour curd makes them less bitter. Next, you have to squeeze the water out and stir-fry the slices with some oil. Adding spices makes this vegetable taste very delicious, indeed.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

10 min

25 min

35 min

A bowl of stir-fried bitter gourd


  • 2 bitter gourds (2 cups bitter gourd slices)
  • 2 cups sour curd
  • 2 onions, julienned
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon sambar powder, rasam powder or red chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or as required
  • 1 gooseberry-sized piece of tamarind, or 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 pinches asafoetida/hing powder
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons oil, I used coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon jaggery powder, or sugar


  1. Wash and slice the bitter gourd. Remove the seeds.
  2. Immerse the bitter gourd slices in sour curds. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix well. Set aside for 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Squeeze out the water. Collect the slices.
  4. Heat some oil in a deep bottomed pan, preferably a non-stick pan. Throw in mustard seeds. Let them crackle. Add cumin seeds and hing powder. Saute until cumin sizzles.
  5. Add onions. Stir-fry on medium heat until they become dark golden brown. It may take about 5 minutes.
  6. Add bitter gourd and some more oil. Continue stir-cooking for 6 to 8 minutes. The bitter gourd should shrink a bit as it loses its water content.
  7. Throw in turmeric powder, asafoetida (hing powder), sugar or jaggery, red chili powder, sambar powder, and some salt.
  8. Stir-cook on very low heat, occasionally sprinkling in drops of oil. You have to continue cooking until the veggies become cooked.
  9. Add tamarind water. Mix well. Once the moisture reduces completely, turn off the heat.
  10. Transfer the stir-fry to a serving dish.
  11. Serve as a side dish with other accompaniments and a main course.