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Athalakkai Poriyal / Stir Fry

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Athalakkai looks very similar to tender
bitter gourds both in shape and colour. Those who haven’t seen this
vegetable before will think that it is a form of tender bitter gourd. But its not so. It
has mild bitter taste, dark greenish in colour and tapioca
pearls like seeds.

Though this vegetable grows in most of the southern districts in Tamilnadu, still this vegetable is not very popular among local people because of its
unavailability in market. It is a kind of vegetable which
is available only during rainy and winter season(between October
and January). During this period they grow without the need for cultivation and then dry after January. The tuber root(Kilangu) stay alive in the soil till next season and grows by itself using the water which is being
passed to other cultivated plants.

Athalakkai – Tamil

Momordica Cymbalaria – botanical name

Kaasara Kaaya – Telugu

Karsikayi – Kannada

Kattupaval – Malayalam (From Wiki)

Using athalakkai, We prepare stir fry (poriyal),
gravy (pulikulambu), pickle and for making vathal (dried athalakkai). I have also heard people making thogayal using
it. The fresh athalakkai seed will burst if you pluck it from
the plant and keep it for a long time in room temperature. So, whenever
you buy athalakkai, immediately prepare any gravy or stir fry it or prepare vadam to avoid
bursting and wasting it.

My grandma used to say it grows well in black soil (karisal land). Hence it is harvested more in the
southern districts of Tamil Nadu. She also used to say it is
very good for diabetes and to prevent gastrointestinal

Basic Information:

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 25 minutes

Serves: 3


Athalakkai – 250grams

Small Onions / Shallots – 1/2 cup, finely sliced

Red chilli powder – 1 teaspoon

Sambar masala – 1 teaspoon

Salt – to taste

Turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon

Oil – 3 teaspoons

Curry leaves – 1 string

Mustard seeds – 1/2 teaspoons

Asafoetida – a pinch


1) Cut both the ends/corners of the athalakkai using hands and wash it well it water two or three times. Keep it aside.

2) Take a frying pan / kadai. Heat 3 teaspoons of oil in it.

3) When the oil is hot and not smoking, add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. It will splutter.

4) Add asafoetida and onion.

5) Saute it till the onion becomes soft and translucent but not brown. Add a pinch of salt for quick cooking of onions.

6) Add the washed athalakkai now. Sprinkle a
handful of water. Turn the flame to low and cover the frying pan with
lid. Let it cook for 5-7 minutes on the low flame.

7) After 7 minutes. remove lid and add red chilli
powder, sambar masala, turmeric powder and salt. Mix well and continue
cooking till the raw smell of masala goes off. It will again take
another 5 minutes.

8) Check the athalakkai whether it is cooked or not. The skin will turn into soft once cooked. Turn the flame off.

9) Serve it with hot steamed rice.


1) After cooking athalakkai, though the skin turns soft, the seeds give a crunchy taste.

2) It tastes slightly bitter like bitter gourd. So
try adding more onion (if you like) and prepare a stir fry. By this way you
can reduce the bitterness to some extent.

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nice post.. thanks for sharing it..


thanks for sharing this is new to me


Irresistible 🙂

Menaga Sathia

Never heard about this,looks very nice!!

Priya Suresh

Healthy poriyal, had it super long back.


Unique..infact am seeing this for the first time..must be a healthy stir fry!!
Join EP event-Garlic OR Turmeric @ Spice n Flavors


Healthy sidedish…

virunthu unna vaanga

its new to me…
looks yummy dear…
Soya Beans Biryani

Sanoli Ghosh

Very new to me, looks too delicious.

today's recipe:


never heard abt this veggies….interesting….
"Healthy Recipe Substitution" HRS EVENT Dec 20th to Mar 20th
SYF&HWS – Cook With SPICES" Series
South Indian Cooking


its new to me uma…ur clicks r lovely:)


It is one of my favourite dish. We used to get free from our village farming in Sattur area. In Tamil nadu lot of people doesn't know this vegetable. I haven't had a chance to get hold of around 20 years after moved outside of my place. Is there anywhere find in Toronto,Canada or export quality available from India. Thanks


I just brought some fresh athalakkai yesterday…I plan to do a slightly different version of your recipe. I will post it next week on my blog website . I will also add a link to your blog. Thanks for sharing 🙂