Bitter Gourd Powder (Pavakkai Podi)

Bitter gourd or Pavakkai is a vegetable that is not liked or consumed by many due to its bitter taste. I usually end up making a fry or poriyal or pitlai using this gourd. Pavakkai podi is a new addition to the list of podis in our kitchen that I learnt from my sister-in-law. It is so tangy and has got the taste of almost all the arusuvais – pungent (kaarppu), sweet (inippu), sour (pulippu), salty (oovaruppu), astrigent (thuvaruppu) and bitter (kasappu). Even non-lovers of bitter gourd will not deny this flavorful podi.

Bitter Gourd Powder

Bitter Gourd Powder

I had never heard of pavakkai podi, until I got a chance to taste it at my sister-in-law’s place. She gave me a podi while visiting her and asked me to guess the podi’s main ingredient. The podi tasted heavenly mixed with hot rice and ghee. All my guesses went wrong and finally she revealed that it was pavakkai podi, which she had learnt from her mom-in-law, who is an excellent cook.

My son and I are podi lovers. Pavakkai being my favorite veggie, I immediately got the recipe from her and tried it the next day.

This podi is so delicious that it can be had not only mixed with rice but also as an accompaniment with idli, dosa, chapathi, poori, and ven pongal. I feel this is a nice way of including these gourds in our diets in case of non-pavakkai lovers.

My sister-in-law’s suggestion was to grate the gourds and leave it aside for at least 7-8 hrs and then proceed with the actual podi making. Soaking for longer time reduces the bitterness. I kept aside the grated pavakkai for 2 hrs only and proceeded with the recipe. But still was quite successful in my attempt. The podi turned extremely flavorful and was liked by everyone in the family.

Health Benefits

Pavakkai or Bitter gourd’s nutritional and health benefits are immense. It is an excellent source of vitamins B1, B2, B3 and C. It is also rich in iron, manganese, calcium, potassium, phosphorous and zinc.

Consumption of pavakkai is very beneficial to those suffering from diabetes. Due to the high beta carotene content present in the bitter gourd, its regular intake helps alleviate eye problems and improves eye sight. Regular intake of bitter gourd juice is said to cleanse the liver and helps in the treatment of jaundice. Also, helps in building the immune system and increasing the body’s resistance against infections.


Pavakkai or Bitter gourd (Long variety) – 350 gms
Tur dal (Thuvaram paruppu) – 100 gms
Red chillies – 8
Fenugreek seeds – ¾ to 1 tsp
Tamarind – 1 big gooseberry sized ball
Jaggery – 1 tbspn grated
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Hing or asafoestida – 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil – 1 or 2 tsp

Pavakkai Podi Ingredients

Pavakkai Podi Ingredients


Preparation time – 10 mins
Cooking time – 20 to 25 mins
Resting time –2 hrs
Total time excluding resting time – 35 mins

  1. Wash the bitter gourd well and trim the edges.
  2. Grate the bitter gourds. Remove and discard the seeds if they are mature and hard.
  3. Mix turmeric powder and salt to the grated gourd and keep it aside for 2-3 hrs.
  4. Squeeze the water from the bitter gourd using your hands. This shall help in removing the bitterness in the bitter gourd.
  5. Heat a pan, dry roast tur dal, red chillies, fenugreek seeds and tamarind separately. Set all these ingredients to cool.
  6. In the same pan, add a tsp of oil and add the squeezed bitter gourd. Roast it well until it changes color and turns dry. This may take around 15-20 mins. Let it cool.
  7. Powder the tur dal in a mixer jar followed by red chillies, fenugreek seeds and tamarind. Then add the roasted gourd. Lastly add hing, jaggery and salt and pulse it for 15-20 secs.

Tasty pavakkai podi (bitter gourd podi) is ready to be relished with hot rice and ghee or gingelly oil. We also enjoy this podi as a side dish for idlis, dosas and curd rice. This podi stays fresh for 15 days in room temperature.

Pavakkai Podi

Pavakkai Podi


  1. I discarded only the mature seeds and grated the gourd along with the tender ones. I finely slivered the inner white part of the gourd which was difficult to be grated.
  2. You can set aside the grated gourd for longer hours too and then squeeze. Squeeze well to remove the water completely. Repeat the process twice or thrice if required.
  3. Depending on the spice tolerance level, increase or decrease the number of red chillies used.
  4. I used one tsp of oil to roast the bitter gourd. You can dry roast too. Roasting properly ensures longevity of the podis.
  5. Salt is already added to the grated gourd, hence be careful while adding salt later on.
  6. The above quantity yielded me around ¾ cup of podi.