The one in which we begin to love a hated vegetable

I was never a fan of the bitter gourd aka karela. It was among the few vegetables I did not like, since childhood. I religiously avoided eating any dish made out of the vegetable, except for the occasional bit of karela subzi that Gujaratis make for special occasions, dunked in sugar and oil so much that it hardly tastes like bitter gourd. I would force my mom to cook something nice for me every time she made bitter gourd sambar or curry.

After marriage, bitter gourds were banned from our house because it is usually me who does most of the vegetable shopping. Muahahaha. I get to choose all my favourite veggies and ban the ones that the husband likes. He happens to like bitter gourd, BTW, and his tastebuds used to get treated to the taste of the vegetable only when his mom prepared it and sent across a dabba for him.

Now, all this a story of the past. This was till my mother-in-law taught me to make Parikkai Gotzu, a delicious sweet and sour and bitter preparation of bitter gourd that goes amazingly well with rice, dosas, as well as rotis. I loved this dish so much that I began cooking it quite frequently, much to the delight of the OH. It has now become a regular at our lunch/dinner table. Thinking back, considering my love for sweet and sour, maybe it was a ploy of his to get me to eat the vegetable, and to make it gain access into our household… Hmmmm… Food for thought.

Anyhoo, so here’s the recipe that I use for the parikkai gotzu.

Ingredients (for 2 people):

3 medium-sized bitter gourds

Salt to taste

Jaggery to taste

Red chilli powder to taste

Turmeric powder to taste

3 teaspoons of sambar powder

2 teaspoons oil

A pinch of asafoetida

Mustard seeds, for the tadka

A lemon-sized ball of tamarind


1. Cut the bitter gourd into small pieces, removing the seeds and the white matter in the centre. Boil it in the pressure cooker with a little water and salt. Once the steam releases, drain all the water from the boiled bitter gourd and keep aside. (Some people prefer to drink this water, as it is supposed to be a good way to keep diabetes under control. I do not do not that, however.)

2. Soak the tamarind in a little warm water for about 10 minutes. Extract a thick paste from the tamarind, which is not too watery.

3. Take the oil in a skillet and add the asafoetida and mustard seeds, once it gets warm. Let the mustard splutter.

4. Add the tamarind paste to the skillet and let it cook for a while, adding salt, turmeric and red chilli powder to taste. Let the raw smell of the tamarind go away.

5. Add the boiled bitter gourd, powdered jaggery, and sambar powder to the tamarind mixture and cook for about 10 minutes till everything is nicely integrated. Keep stirring, and add extra water if required.


1. This recipe might yield more gotzu than you can eat in one sitting. That depends on how much you like it. 😛 However, if you do have an excess, you can store it in the refrigerator and eat it with dosas, idlis, etc. It keeps well for about 3-4 days when well refrigerated.

2. In between my mother and mother-in-law, we have a steady flow of sambar powder into our kitchen. The ignorant me does not know how to make it on my own. I have heard that ready-made versions are available, and that they are equally good. I have never used them, though.

Go ahead, try out this recipe and let me know how you liked it!

32 thoughts on “The one in which we begin to love a hated vegetable

  1. I love karela. Boiled karela with mashed potatoes is a fairly common Bengali dish. It is had with rice. My Mom says I used to love having that even I was super young. 🙂 And I love myself some deep fried karela! 🙂


    1. @Shirsha

      Welcome here! 🙂

      Wow! You loved karela even as a child?! Super cool. I like deep fried karela too, but normally avoid it. I love this version, though. It is spicy and sweet and sour – and less of oil. 🙂


  2. Hey, Nice, you seriously are on trying new things spree…
    I like Karela the way my mom made it, stuffed with besan, masala and of course sugar and then shallow fried…
    But this version too looks inviting, i already have 3 Karelas (Though small in size) in my fridge at this moment (i was planning to make my mom’s version), will let you know if i try this 🙂


  3. I guess I am one of those weird people who like to eat karela in its bitter form 🙂
    Your recipe sounds interesting though. Will give it a try sometime 🙂


  4. i have tasted this gotsu in one of my tamil friends house.. how i do is, boil the bitter gourd in tamarind or butter milk with salt and turmeric, later deep fry it and add coconut karam..( something like our idili podi) that is all, it also doesnt taste that bitter..


      1. It is very simple.. scrape it and slit it… put some salt on it and leave for some time.. then squeeze it so that its bitterness is gone. Fill the slit with either the onion tomato masala or sukha masala and then fry it (shallow fry). its ready.. 🙂 Mostly an add-on with dal.


  5. Great recipe!! Thanks – we don’t make this in our home but it sounds like I would like it. The husband has also developed a taste for karela now so I will definitely make this sometime. Thanks for sharing 🙂


  6. I use a ditto recipe. That’s exactly how my mother makes it too. One of the bitter gourd dishes at home. I love bitter gourd and so it’s a must have once a fortnight at least.
    In fact I also make the brinjal gojju that I once shared in a similar way 🙂


      1. No no, not yenkai. The brinjal gojju in one of my earlier foodie chronicles. If you substitute bitter gourd with brinjal, you will get brinjal gojju 😛 and that tastes yummy with hot food 😛
        Yenkai, wait I will email the recipe.


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