Bitter gourd Stir fry/ Karela Subji/ Haagala kai Palya

I have fond memories with this palya. We used to harvest a lot of them in our front yard. We all loved bitter gourds. When my paternal aunts visited us during school vacation, it was them who used to prepare this and we all relished. Good part is, this palya can be stored 2-3 days without refrigeration, if it is properly done.

Bitter gourd Stir fry with coconut

This sweet & spicy palya with mild bitter taste makes it a wonderful combination with rice and ghee. The perfect blend of fresh coconut masala balances the strong nature of bitter gourd very well. You get the heavenly flavor in every single bite. 

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4 - 6
Bitter Gourds – 2
Grated coconut – ¼ cup
Urad Dal/ Black gram dal – 2 tsp
Red chillis – 2
Tamarind pulp – 1 tsp (small gooseberry sized)
Jaggery – 2 tbsp (powder) or 1 large lemon sized piece or little more (adjust as per your taste)
Salt – to taste (1 tsp)
Coconut Oil or oil of your choice – 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Channa/ Gram dal – 1 tsp
Curry leaves


  • Wash and chop bitter gourds after removing seeds. You need not peel them. Rinse the chopped bitter gourd in salt water and drain water completely. 
  • Now take a frying pan or wok. Fry urad dal, red chillis by adding few drops of oil until dal turns brown and you get a nice roasted aroma. Do not burn any ingredient. 
  • Dry grind the fried ingredients with grated coconut coarsely. Keep aside. 
  • In the same frying pan, heat 1 tbsp oil, add mustard seeds & gram dal. Allow spluttering. Add chopped bitter guard, salt, tamarind, jaggery and required water to cook. Cook the gourd by covering the pan. 
  • Once done, add ground paste or coconut mixture. Mix well, allow until water evaporates completely. 
  • Add remaining oil and sauté the palya thoroughly. Garnish with curry leaves. Serve the palya with hot rice and ghee and enjoy.
Haagala kai Palya