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Bitter Gourd Curry

Bitter Gourd curry is a spicy concoction, prepared with sliced bitter gourds also known as bitter melons. The dish is enjoyed in almost all parts of the Indian subcontinent and is valued for its medicinal properties. There are numerous variations of the curry with some of them containing the bitter gourd as the sole vegetable while others include a host of others as well. The dish is also stuffed and made into a curry in parts of Northern India while it is cooked along with meat in Pakistan.

The gourd is prepared as a stir-fry in China while the curry is cooked in the form of gado-gado in Indonesia. It is cooked with other vegetables into a mild stew like curry in the Philippines.

The curry is usually served with rice or Indian flatbreads with the preparation being confined to the tropics. The western countries have not adopted the curried bitter gourd as a part of their cuisine yet.

Overview of Bitter Gourd Curry Recipes

The most popular method of cooking the bitter gourd in Northern India is to fry the sliced karelas or bitter gourds in hot oil before keeping them aside. Onions, ginger paste, turmeric, coriander and salt are added next, together with the scraped skin of the bitter gourd. Water is added to it once the spices release their fragrance and the fried gourds are put into the gravy as soon as it starts simmering. The curry is removed from fire when the gourd becomes tender and the water dries off.

The South Indian version of the curry involves cooking the bitter gourd in either a tamarind based sauce or coconut milk. Curry leaves and fried mustard seeds are added to the curry as well.

Popular Variations of Bitter Gourd Curry Recipes

Some of the most popular curried form of the bitter gourd are:-

  • Keema Karela- A dry curry made with minced meat and bitter gourd. It is usually served with Naan or other India flatbreads and is popular in North India and Pakistan.
  • Gulai kerang dengan peria katak- A Malaysian dish of curried bitter gourd cooked in coconut milk.
  • Ginisang Ampalaya- This is a popular Filipino variation of curried bitter gourds sautéed together with garlic, onions, tomatoes and black pepper powder along with eggs.

Health Benefits of Curried Bitter Gourds

  • The vegetable can reduce the blood sugar levels thereby controlling diabetes effectively.
  • Regular consumption of the curry can help in thwarting infections as well as in reducing the risk of developing cancer.
  • The mild laxative properties of the vegetable can be enhanced when prepared into a curry with minimal oil and spices which aid digestion.
  • The vegetable is known as a blood purifier and can also help to get rid of the toxins from the body when consumed as a curry.


President Zia of Pakistan was fond of bitter gourd curry according to the BBC correspondent’s book “A case of Exploding Mangoes.”