Bittergourd Thokku/Pavakkai thokku/Pickle

bittergourd thokku, pavakkai thokku
This has been one of my favourite  pickle/thokku recipes. Some days back I tasted a leading brand of Pavkkai /Bittermelon Thokku and I nearly emptied the bottle in 2 days, by having it with just about everything. It was that delicious, being a pavakkai fan I simply flipped for it and had to try it immediately at home.
My mom had always served bitter gourds in various dishes and we got to like them. Unfortunately many people stay away from it as it has the bitter feeling with an after taste.Fortunately this thokku recipe has no such taste and any bitterness is just a hint and infused with so many flavors of the spices and the long cooking of the sauce, you will not get the taste.
Although, the bitterness of this gourd might turn some people away from it, in-fact, it can really sweeten your health because of its disease preventing and health promoting phyto chemical compounds.


 1  cup finely sliced or chopped bitter-gourds, after removing the seeds.
1 lime size tamrind, soaked in warm water for easy extraction of tamrind liquid.
Rock salt, powdered as required.
1 tsp chilli powder ( mild spice ) or Kashmiri chili powder.
A generous pinch of asafoetida powder, or the rock form, soaked in warm water or powdered.
1 tbsp powdered jaggery
Pinch of turmeric powder
2 tsp sesame seeds

To  roast and grind to powder.

with 1 tbsp sesame oil  oil fry the following :
1 tsp chana dal
1 tsp udad dal
2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp asafoetida powder or crystals
6-8 red dry chillies of both spicy and mild varieties
heat a pan and roast the above till golden and aromatic, cool and powder in mixie . kep this powder aside , till needed . 
For tempering

2 tbsp sesame oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

some curry leaves

Method :

1.wash , dry the bittergourds, slice thinly , removing seeds

2. In a pan roast ingredients mentioned above in roast and grind , keep groound powder aside .

3. In a pan add 2-3 tbsp sesame oil , and pan fry the bitter gourd slices with a pinch of salt .

4. Once the bitter gourds are stir fried , take a heavy bottomed pan , add sesame oil , splutter mustard seeds

add some curry leaves, add the stir-fried bitter gourds. keep tossing .

add 2 cups tamrind water, salt , turmeric powder .

A tsp of kashmiri chili powder may be added .

cover and cook till mixture thickens

stir at intervals, add the ground powder , about 3 -4 tbsp and mix well to prevent lumps .

continue to cover and cook till thokku is almost done .

add jaggery just before removing from flame .

The pavakkai thokku is done when oil is seen floating on sides and top .

This delicious fragrant thokku is very tasty when mixed with rice .

Store the prepared thokku in a clean dry air tight bottle .

This thokku comes handy to prepare a lunch box dish too. abaittergourd thokku, pavakkai thokku

Pavakkai thokku, bittergourd thokku

check out my Youtube video


Some info about Bitter gourds ( sourced from Internet )
The vegetable is very low in calories, providing just 17 calories per 100g. Nevertheless, its pods are rich in phytonutrients like dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants.
Bitter melon notably contains phyto-nutrient, polypeptide-P; a plant insulin known to lower blood sugar levels. In addition, it composes hypoglycemic agent called charantin. Charantin increases glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis in the cells of liver, muscle and adipose tissue. Together, these compounds are thought to be responsible for reduction of blood sugar levels in the treatment of type-2 diabetes.
Fresh pods are an excellent source of folates, contain about 72 µg/100g (Provides 18% of RDA). Folate helps reduce the incidence of neural tube defects in the newborns when taken by mothers during early pregnancy.
Fresh bitter melon is an excellent source of vitamin-C (100 g of raw pod provides 84 mg or about 140% of RDI). Vitamin-C, one of the powerful natural antioxidants, helps the body scavenge deleterious free radicals one of the reasons for cancer development.
It is an excellent source of health benefiting flavonoids such as ß-carotene, a-carotene, lutein, and zea-xanthin. It also contains a good amount of vitamin A. Together; these compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging, cancers and various disease processes.
Bitter melon stimulates easy digestion and peristalsis of food through the bowel until it is excreted from the body. Thus, helps in relieving indigestion and constipation problems.
In addition, the vegetable is an also good source of niacin (vitamin B-3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and minerals such as iron, zinc, potassium, manganese and magnesium.
Early laboratory tests suggest that compounds in bitter melon might be effective for treating HIV infection.


  1. says

    wow, you have managed to twist my arm. I don't like bitter gourd and my hubby loves it. I will make this pickle for him and since you have mentioned that it does not taste that bitter I may try it too 🙂

  2. Kalavathi says

    Hi, this is kala. I am a great fan of your recipes. I have prepared ready sambar mix, upma mix and many other dishes. They came out so well. I made this thokku today and it was heavenly. Kindly let me know whether it can be made and stored in large quantity for six months. If so, will the flavour change

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