Pavakka Pickle

(Bitter Gourd Pickle/Pavakka Achar)


  • 2 medium sized Bitter Gourd, Pavakka
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 2 green chili, minced
  • 1 curry leaf stalk
  • 1 tablespoon Kashmiri chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Fenugreek powder, roasted
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
  • 2 teaspoon brown sugar or jaggery
  • 3/4 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons sesame oil *
  • 2 teaspoon salt, then as needed
  • 2 tablespoon vinegar


  • Wash and dry Pavakka. Cut the ends off each Pavakka and cut them lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.**
  • Cut the pavakka into small rectangle slices and place into a bowl.
  • Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon vinegar to the pavakka and mix well.
  • Cover and let pavakka sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.***
  • Some water will be released, squeeze liquid from pavakka and place in a separate bowl.
  • Heat up ¼ cup of sesame oil in a frying pan. Pan fry Pavakka on medium heat until slightly brown (~7-10 mins). We don’t want the pavakka to be crunchy. Remove from the pan into a bowl or container.
  • Take ½ cup hot water and mix 3/4 teaspoon tamarind concentrate, mix well and set aside.
  • Add 3 tablespoons sesame oil to another frying pan. Once the oil is hot, add 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds. Then add 1 tablespoon ginger, 2 tablespoon garlic and 2 green chilis to the pan and mix. Add curry leaves to the pan and mix until slightly brown.
  • Turn heat to low when adding dry spices so it doesn’t burn. Add ½ teaspoon turmeric, 1 tablespoon Kashmiri chili powder, ½ teaspoon roasted Fenugreek powder, ½ teaspoon Asafoetida. Mix well and sauté for 1-2 mins on low heat, until the raw smell disappears.
  • Add the ½ cup tamarind water and increase the heat.
  • Add 2 teaspoon brown sugar or jaggery to the pan. This gives a little sweetness, bitterness from pavakka.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of vinegar which helps act as a preservative. Mix.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of salt and mix. The mixture will slightly thicken, oil will start to separate.
  • Add pavakka to pan and mix for 1-2 minutes and place to the side to cool.
  • Once cooled, pavakka pickle can be stored in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator.



Pavakka pickle goes well with rice, fried rice, biryani, and naan.
*Any oil can be used but sesame oil gives more flavor.
**If pavakka seeds are slightly pink then it is ripened. You can use it but fresh is better. Pavakka should be a green color.
***This step is to help take away some of the bitterness from the pavakka. It is optional and you can go straight to step 6.


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