Global Veg » A Culinary Journal

Crispy Bitter Gourd

bittergourd_0007While sweet, salty, sour and spicy tastes are often encountered in global cuisine, bitterness is rare and usually not even sought after.

In Asian cuisine, one way to achieve this flavor is through the aptly named “bitter gourd.”

bittergourd_0001Bitter gourds originated in India and went to China in the 14th century.  They are known for their health benefits- particularly in lowering blood sugar levels and maintaining digestive health. Bitter gourds are not easy to find in regular stores. You will have to go to an asian market to find these oddly endearing looking vegetables.


One of the ways bitter gourds are cooked in Indian cuisine is by slicing them thinly, spicing them well and cooking until crispy. The infusion of flavors and the crispy texture really complement the bitter flavor. Serve them as a crispy appetizer or part of a tapas plate. If you want to make a more traditional South Indian meal, make some Sweet Potato and Green Pepper Sambar, served over rice, with a side of these crispy bitter gourds. Enjoy!



Crispy Bitter Gourd


  1. 8 bitter gourds, cut into small pieces
  2. 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
  3. 1 tablespoon chick pea flour
  4. 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (or to taste)
  5. a pinch of ground asafoetida
  6. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  7. 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  8. 1/2 teaspoon urad dal
  9. salt to taste


  1. Prepare the bitter gourds by slicing in half and scooping out/discarding the top mushy layer inside the bitter gourd.
  2. Cut into thin slices.
  3. Add the bitter gourd pieces and ingredients through asafoetida to a bowl and mix gently. Add a teaspoon or two of water if too dry.
  4. Let it marinate for about 15-30 minutes.
  5. Heat the olive oil in a skillet.
  6. Add the mustard seeds and urad dal. When the seeds start popping add the bitter gourd mixture.
  7. Sprinkle with salt and cook until crispy.

  • Elizabeth Varadan - This sounds really good. I’ve bookmarked the recipe.ReplyCancel

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