Pavakka Kichadi/ Bittergourd Pachadi- Kerala Style

Pavakka Kichadi/ Pavakka Pachadi is a delicious side dish to have with rice. Also known as Bitter Gourd, Karela, Bitter Melon etc, Pavakka has numerous health benefits. Rich in Vitamins and fiber, Pavakka is good for your diet. It is rich in antioxidants, boosts your immunity and aids in digestion. Moreover, it is diabetic friendly as the Bitter Gourd reduces blood glucose levels.

Hope I am not boring you with the health benefits- bitter or not, this is one of my favourite vegetables. My mom is an expert in making Pavakka dishes. It took me more than 12 years to get a compliment from her greatest Pavakka fan, i.e; my hubby. This Pavakka Pachadi recipe is one of her famous signature recipes.

Kichadi or Pachadi? There is always a confusion about the name. As per Devi, my sweet friend and neighbour in Bangalore, Kichadi is prepared without turmeric and Pachadi with turmeric. Another version is that Kichadi is prepared with curd and for Pachadi both coconut and curd is added. Yet another version says Pachadi is prepared with sweet fruits like Mango, Pineapple etc., while Kichadi is prepared with veggies like Cucumber, Bitter Gourd, Beetroot, Ladies Finger etc., and with green tomatoes and green mangoes. Well, to conclude, in some places they call it Pachadi, and in some other places it is known as Kichadi. Period! What is in a name, after all?

Cucumber/ Vellarikka Pachadi/ Kichadi is a main dish in Kerala Sadya, the grand vegetarian spread on Plantain leaf served and enjoyed during festive and special Occasions. Pavakka Kichadi, Cucumber Pachadi, Mambazha Pulissery, Kumbalanga Moru curry, Kalan, Pappaya Pulissery, Tomato Pachadi all are my favourite curd dishes at home.If you like Bitter gourd, check Pavakka Achar, Pavakka Theeyal, Pavakka crispy fry in my recipe collection. Will add more Pavakka recipes soon. 

There are two ways of preparing Pavakka Kichadi – One is frying the Pavakka pieces and adding the coconut and curd to it. The second one is healthier actually; no frying involved, and you just need to cook the Bitter gourd by sautéing. This recipe for Pavakka Kichadi is for the healthier version. Traditional preparation of Pavakka Kichadi calls for ground mustard and coconut paste. However, I have not ground mustard together with coconut, but have used it for tempering alone. This way, the fresh taste of Bitter Gourd is preserved.

Try this delicious and healthy Pavakka Kichadi along with rice, thoran, Beef fry or Chicken Roast, I can have it every day!

Ingredients for Bittergourd Kichadi:

Bitter Gourd/ Pavakka

: 1 ½ cup (chopped finely)

Green chili

: 10 + 2 nos.

Small Onion/ Shallots

: 12 + 3 nos.


: 1-inch long piece

Coconut scraped

: ½ cup

Curd (thick)

: 2 cups


: ½ tsp

Uluva/ Fenugreek seeds

: ¼ tsp

Red dry Chili

: 2 nos.

Curry leaves

: 4 -5 twigs

Coconut oil

: 1 tbsp + 2 tsp

Chili Powder

: a pinch (optional)

Step by step method for Pavakka Kichadi:

  1. Wash the Bitter Gourd thoroughly; yes, do take time to soak in water, clean the outside carefully to remove pesticides.
  2. Remove the seeds, and finely chop into small pieces.
  3. Chop the ginger, shallots and green chillies finely.
  4. Add salt, 1 tsp Coconut oil and curry leaves to the chopped ingredients and mix well.

Pavakka Kichadi/ Bittergourd Pachadi- Kerala Style

  1. Transfer to a Manchatti/ Earthen Pot or Pan.
  2. Heat the pot/ pan, stirring the mix in between.
  3. Once the pan is hot, reduce the flame and cover and cook on medium flame for 6 -8 minutes. The color will change once cooked.
  4. Do not add water, but make sure to stir in between to ensure it does not stick to the pan. Add 1 more spoon of coconut oil if required.

Pavakka Kichadi/ Bittergourd Pachadi- Kerala Style Pavakka Kichadi/ Bittergourd Pachadi- Kerala Style

  1. Grind the coconut with 3 shallots and 2 green chillies and 2 tbsp water to a slightly grainy paste.
  2. Pour this to the pan and combine well.
  3. Cover and cook for three more minutes on low flame.

Pavakka Kichadi/ Bittergourd Pachadi- Kerala Style  Pavakka Kichadi/ Bittergourd Pachadi- Kerala Style

  1. Once done, switch off the flame and wait for three to four minutes. (curd might curdle if pan/ pot is too hot).
  2. Pour the well beaten thick curd to the mix.
  3. Stir to combine well.
  4. The gravy should be thick. No extra water is required.
  5. Do not heat after mixing curd. The heat from the Bitter gourd mix is enough to cook the curd.

Pavakka Kichadi/ Bittergourd Pachadi- Kerala StylePavakka Kichadi/ Bittergourd Pachadi- Kerala Style

Heat coconut oil in a kadai, crackle mustards, Uluva, add curry leaves, red chili and a small pinch of chilli powder. Garnish the Pavakka Pachadi and enjoy with rice and Beef fry​


  • Bitter Gourd should be chopped very finely.
  • Another way is frying the bitter gourd and add coconut mix and curd. This way it is healthier. 
  • Do not add water to cook Bitter gourd. The shallots and Pavakka will release enough water to cook.
  • I have not added mustard to the coconut mix; like all Kichadi, as it would overpower the Bitter gourd taste.
  • Use coconut oil for seasoning to ensure authentic taste.
  • The curd should be thick and not very sour.
  • Do not heat the Kichadi after adding curd as it will curdle.
  • Add more curd if you prefer. 
  • You can prepare more and store the Pavakka coconut mix in refrigerator and mix with curd whenever you require. This way you can have fresh Pachadi. 

Hope you liked this Pavakka Kichadi recipe. It will really motivate me if you will send me your comments or share with friends through the share buttons below. God Bless!

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