Pavakkai Varuval – Pavakkai Chips – Bitter Gourd / Bitter Melon Chips

10th June, 2015

The word bitter gourd /melon, scares everyone away from it. Surprisingly everyone in my family including my 9 year old and 5 year old like pavakkai (bitter gourd) and I make curry or pitlai very often. This week my theme for the blogging marathon is cooking with 3 ingredients. I was sort of staying away from the theme, but since I always mail in late to pick my choice, I ran out of choices and was stuck with this theme.

I broke my head thinking what I am going to cook using just three ingredients. Srivalli had mentioned in her clause that sugar, salt and oil were not counted as an ingredient. I make these pavakkai chips just once a year when I cook for my father in laws yearly death anniversary. This recipe was something that came to mind when I was pondering over 3 ingredients recipes. So last week, I bought some fresh bitter gourd and made the chips. Even though the ingredient list is very small for the recipe, it is a little consuming process. The vegetable by itself takes a while to cook and then chopping the bitter gourd into thin rondelle and removing the inner flesh takes some time.

I have mentioned red chili powder as one of the ingredient, but it is really optional. I absolutely felt there was no need of it as the flavor of the chips was just perfect by itself. Also if you are worried about the bitterness of the vegetable, you can be ensured that the chips is way less bitter than when you make it as a curry.

My other Pavakkai / Bitter gourd recipes –

Pavakkai PitlaiPavakkai Podi
Pavakkai Pickle

Preparation time – 20 minutes
Cooking time – about 10 minutes per batch of frying
Difficulty level – easy

Ingredients – Makes about 2 cups of chips

  • Bitter gourd / Bitter melon / Pavakkai – 6 large or 8 medium
  • Salt – to taste
  • Oil – for deep frying
  • Red chili powder – ½ tsp (optional)
Procedure –
  • Clean the bitter gourd / pavakkai and wipe it dry. Remove the ends of the vegetable and the cut them into thin circles. Now remove the inner flesh from the vegetable (this is where the seeds and the flesh are) and discard it. It is important to remove the inner flesh because it is quite bitter.
  • Repeat with all the bitter gourd and place the chopped ones in a bowl. Add salt needed for the vegetable and using wet hands mix through the vegetable for the salt to spread well. Make sure you do not use too much of water. Just use wet hands to mix the salt.
  • Now spread the bitter gourd in a sheet or a plate and place it in direct sun for about 30 minutes to an hour. It was a sunny day when I made the chips, so I placed the tray in the sun for an hour. This step helps in drying out the vegetable a bit and this reduces the cooking time and also makes the chips crunchier. If there is no sunlight, you could also keep it in oven for about 30 minutes in the lowest baking temperature (about 200 F) or you could also dry it out in the microwave. 
  • Heat the oil for deep frying. Take a handful of the vegetable and carefully place it in the hot oil. The oil will all bubble up, so make sure you use a deep pan to fry. Fry the bitter gourd until it light brown. You will notice that the quantity of the chips yielded is quite less as the vegetable shrinks a lot when frying.
  • Remove the chips on paper towel lined dish. After few minutes, place the chips in a bowl and add chili powder if using. Mix well with your hands to coat the chips well.
  • Store the chips in an airtight container once they have cooled down completely.

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