Kakarakaya fry | Bitter gourd fry | Karela fry

Updated: August 30, 2022, By Swasthi

Kakarakaya fry recipe video – Sharing a simple bitter gourd stir fry recipe made in South Indian style. This goes very well with plain rice and ghee or as a side with the rasam rice, sambar rice and curd rice. Bitter gourd is said to be one of the veggies that regulates blood sugar levels, so it is good to use them at least occasionally.

kakarakaya fry recipe

This bitter gourd recipe is from my mum. It is very simple to make and turns out to be very good. If you are one who does not like the flavor of bitter gourd then this is a must try recipe.

The flavors of garlic, coriander powder, tamarind, dried coconut (copra) and jaggery are the key to making this delicious kakarakaya fry. There is no substitute for any of the ingredients used.

To make it the best tasting bitter gourd, use all the ingredients mentioned in the specified quantities. You can also check this healthy bitter gourd curry recipe which doesn’t use any jaggery or tamarind and is even suitable to folks with diabetes.

This is the first bitter gourd recipe on the blog, so sharing a few important notes. If you are a first timer, you can research more about this veggie to find if it is suitable to you.

Photo Guide


Scrub the bitter gourd well and rinse them under running water. Slice them and remove the seeds if desired. Set aside.

Soak tamarind in little water as needed. You can also skip tamarind and use 1 tbsp of sour curd.

How to make bitter gourd fry

1. Heat oil and add cumin. When the cumin splutters add garlic. Fry the garlic for a minute and then add curry leaves, sprinkle hing & turmeric.

tempering spices for bitter gourd

2. Fry just for a minute.

frying curry leaves to make kakarakaya fry

3. Add the sliced bitter gourd. Stir fry for 2 to 3 mins.

adding sliced bitter gourd to fry

4. Sprinkle salt and filter the tamarind water. Instead of tamarind you can also use 1 tbsp curd.

5. Mix well. Cover and cook until the bitter gourd turns tender. If you prefer crunchy bitter gourd then fry them without covering stirring often.

6. Add all the spice powders – red chili powder, coriander powder & coconut. Mix and stir fry for 2 to 3 mins.

7. Add jaggery and mix. Stir fry and cook until the jaggery dissolves and moisture evaporates.

8. Add more salt, jaggery and spice if desired.

Serve kakarakaya fry or bitter gourd fry with plain rice or as a side with rice & rasam.

bitter gourd fry recipe

Notes on bitter gourd

1. Bitter gourd is not suitable to everyone, especially to women and kids. Pregnant women, those with a history of miscarriage, those planning pregnancy and women suffering from Menorrhagia should avoid this veggie to reduce the risk. While it is considered to be safe if consumed in small quantities, it is still a risk.

2. Bitter gourd seeds are said to be toxic if consumed in large quantities or eaten often. So you may remove them before cooking if you eat bitter gourd regularly. There are also evidences that these seeds have medicinal properties and are helpful to people with certain health conditions.

3. Avoid bitter gourd if you are on medications to lower blood sugar. Otherwise it may drop the sugar levels too low.

I do not remove the seeds since we do not eat this veggie often. I make it only once in few months & I do not serve this to my kids. The seeds turn crunchy in the stir fry, so I prefer to keep them.

The key ingredient is tamarind in this recipe. A sour ingredient like tamarind or yogurt cuts down the bitter taste.

If you are making this recipe for a diabetic family member, then use little bit of karupatti or thati bellam. That balances the bitter flavor.

I will be sharing more bitter gourd recipes that are diabetic friendly.

More vegetable recipes
Bhindi fry
Cabbage stir fry
Garlic mushroom
Ladies finger fry

Recipe card

Kakarakaya fry

4.98 from 46 votes
Kakarakaya fry – South Indian style bitter gourd stir fry recipe. It is best served with rice or millets.
Print Recipe Pin Recipe

For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings3 to 4

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

  • 250 grams karela / bitter gourd/ kakarakayalu
  • 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons Oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt as needed
  • 1 tablespoons garlic chopped
  • 50 grams jaggery or palm jaggery/karupatti (about 2 to 3 tbsps)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons copra or dried coconut or desiccated coconut
  • 1 tbsp Tamarind or 1 to 2 tbsps curd or yogurt (refer notes)
  • 1 sprig curry leaves


  • 1 Pinch hing or asafoetida
  • ½ teaspoon cumin or jeera
  • 1/8 teaspoon Turmeric
  • 1 to 1 ½ teaspoon red chili powder (I used 2 tsps)
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder or daniya powder


  • Skip this step if using curd. Soak tamarind in ¼ cup hot water. 
  • Wash bitter gourd thoroughly. Cut off both the ends. Cut to thin round slices. 
  • If desired remove the seeds & discard.
  • Squeeze up the tamarind very well and make a thin liquid by adding another 2 to 4 tbsp water. 
  • Make sure tamarind water is thin otherwise it may prevent the gourd from getting cooked.

making bitter gourd stir fry

  • Heat a pan with oil and add cumin.
  • When they begin to splutter, add garlic and fry for 2 mins.
  • Add the curry leaves, hing and turmeric. Saute for a minute.
  • Next add the bitter gourd and begin to stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Add salt and filter the tamarind across the pan. Use only as needed.
  • Mix well. Cover and cook on a medium heat until the bitter gourd is cooked well. 
  • Keep stirring in between to prevent burning
  • Add coriander powder, red chili powder and mix. Saute for 2 mins.
  • Add coconut and jaggery. On a low to medium heat stir fry until the jaggery completely dissolves. Takes about 3 minutes. 
  • Check the taste. We prefer to make it slightly hot, sweet and tangy. You can add in more chili powder, jaggery and tamarind water at this stage. 
  • Cook until all moisture dries up well.
  • Kakarakaya fry is ready to serve with rice and ghee.


  1. The sour ingredient helps to cut down the bitterness. So do not skip it.
  2. To make crisp bitter gourd fry, skip covering the pan while cooking and use a bit more oil.


NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Kakarakaya fry
Amount Per Serving
Calories 164 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Fat 9g14%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Sodium 22mg1%
Potassium 308mg9%
Carbohydrates 20g7%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 14g16%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 720IU14%
Vitamin C 87.5mg106%
Calcium 33mg3%
Iron 1.3mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @SwasthisRecipes or tag #swasthisrecipes!

© Swasthi’s Recipes

kakarakaya fry bitter gourd fry

About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me

Follow Swasthi’s Recipes


Recipe Rating

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

5 stars
Dear Mdm Swasthi, I hv been utilizing yr Recipes for the last 6 yrs, each is Superb in its own right and I haven’t regretted since.
I just made yr bitter gourd fry – its delicious , believe this is the only veggie that is Alkaline and extremely beneficial for our health and is my favorite. Thank you and God Bless and more power to you in yr Recipe Endeavours

This recipe is seriously good. I replaced the tamarind with amchur only because I didn’t have it at home . Will be my go-to recipe for bittergourd now.

5 stars
It’s first time I cooked bitter gourd (though mixed it with few other veggies that needed to be cooked from the fridge). I have always thought it’s rocket science to get it nice and tasty without dominating bitterness. In this recipe, simple and quick, it turns out very tasty. Little crunchiness added extra touch. True, generous amount of tamarind does it’s work with balancing bitterness. ?
Thanks again for sharing your experiences and knowledge on this amazing world of Indian cuisine ☺️?

5 stars
Nice and easy recipe. Worked out really well

5 stars
The first recipe i tried and was fantastic. loved by all

5 stars
What a recipe.. I tried it today.. Bind blowing taste.. love it.. thanq so much to post this recipe..

Excellent taste

5 stars
Tried it out. Came out so well ? thanks for this recipe

5 stars
. Thank u so much??? Recipe looks unique. I never use tamarind so I should try this definitely

Finally tried yesterday. Came out well. My hubby was so surprised bitter gourd is not bitter ?
And didn’t find that I added tamarind( he is good at finding secret ingredients) . We generally eat this often once a week at least . So m happy thank u akka. U know what my 3 year old son also had it for the first time without spitting.

4 stars
Thank you ?