Bitter gourd - The name brings terror to many. People are averse to this wonder vegetable because of its intense bitter taste. On the contrary, myself, hubby and in -laws love it. Both my Mom and MIL adopt simple measures to cut out the bitterness in melons by soaking it in water mixed with rice starch or tamarind extract or by sauteing it as such infusing strong spices or combining it with onions or potatoes in stir fries. Addition of tamarind extract, jaggery/ sugar, salt and chilli powder balances and minimizes intense bitterness.  My hubby's grandma also used turmeric water to soak them to remove bitterness.

Baby bitter-gourds or Midhi Paavakkai are by nature less intense in bitterness than the regular variety. These stuffed baby bitter gourds are delicious and make a very exotic accompaniment or a snack. This is my MIL's version. 

Preparation time: 15 min
Cooking time: 25 -30 min
Cuisine: Indian
Category: Accompaniment
Level: Medium
Spice level: Spicy
Makes: 24 pieces
Source : MIL
Nutrition Facts
Servings 30.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 23
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1 g1 %
Saturated Fat 0 g1 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg0 %
Sodium 55 mg2 %
Potassium 38 mg1 %
Total Carbohydrate 3 g1 %
Dietary Fiber 0 g2 %
Sugars 1 g
Protein 0 g1 %
Vitamin A1 %
Vitamin C16 %
Calcium0 %
Iron1 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.
  • 12- 15 Baby bittergourds
  • 3 tbsp rice flour/ Arisi maavu
  • 3 tbsp gram flour/ besan/ kadalai maavu
  • 2  tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 1 tsp Sambhar powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder/ garam masala/ curry powder/minced fresh garlic or dry bits/tandoori masala (whatever you fancy - completely optional)
  • 2 tbsp pounded jaggery
  • a generous dash of Asafoetida
  • Salt to taste
  • 20 ml peanut oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds or fennel seeds if preferred
  • Wash bitter gourds and cut into two.Roughly each piece would be an inch in size. Scoop out the seed part using a knife or the stem of a spoon without breaking it.
  • Set aside on a plate in upright position.
  • Mix all ingredients mentioned for the stuffing. You can taste the spice mix to adjust anything to your preference.
  • Tightly pack the bitter gourds with the spice powder. The moisture within will help hold the spice mix. The excess will wither off  automatically and can be added while cooking.
  • Heat oil in a flat Iron pan / kadai (preferably). Add mustard seeds. When it pops add cumin/ fennel. When it crackles simmer the flame.
  • Gently place all the bitter-gourds in the oil in such a way that one side filled with the spice powder touches the oil.
  • Cook until one side is half done. Now using a pair of tongs, flip and cook the other side. Sprinkle little water and close with a lid and continue to cook until the gourds soften.
  • Once done, you can take off the lid and continue to open cook until its completely cooked and turns crisp and a dark brown as a result of the jaggery caramelizing. Refer to the picture below.
  • You can choose to open cook completely but it will take long or you can alternately think of baking it. 
  • When completely done, the cooked gourds will resemble shrunken and stuffed savoury cupcakes. Before turning off the heat, sprinkle any left over spice powder and stir well on high flame. 
  • Remove from heat and serve warm as an accompaniment or as a snack.

Health Benefits 
  • Though debatable, natural medicine and other alternative medicines believe that bitter gourds are beneficial in lowering glucose levels in Type 2 Diabetics. 
  • Bitter gourds are good source of Folate and recommended for pregnant women during the first trimester to combat neural tube disorders in foetus. 
  • Dried bitter gourd powder is used to treat patients affected with gout and has been proven through research and studies. 


  1. Must try! Sometimes I am lost on what to do with gourds and always stir frying. This recipe certainly is keeper. Tq for sharing.

    1. I am eager to know your feedback on this recipe Nava


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