Bitter Gourd or Karawila/Karela is a popular vegetable in Sri Lanka for many recipes. Some of the popular Sri Lankan bitter gourd recipes include bitter gourd salad (Karawila Salad) or bitter gourd curry(Karawila Curry). As bitter gourd is a vegetable which is helpful in lowering blood sugar, it is good to include it into the meal with care. Anyway with the bitter taste, sometimes it is not easy to match bitter gourd recipes with other vegetables or non-veg dishes.

How to remove the bitter taste of bitter gourd?

This is something which many of us concern when cook bitter gourd. However, bitter taste makes it unique for this vegetable. In Sri Lanka we use saltish water to remove the bitterness. Simply add sliced bitter gourd to a bowl of saltish water. Keep it for few minutes. Then squeeze bitter gourd. Most of the bitterness will go away.

When you cook, add some sour taste using Goraka/gamboge, tomato or tamarind. Adding bit of sugar will also balance the bitter taste.

Anyway, here is how I cook bitter gourd with grated coconut or as a mallung.

Karawila Mallung

Karawila Mallung

Recipe: Karawila Mallung (Bitter Gourd with Grated coconut)/Bitter Gourd mallung

Ingredients: (for 2-3 servings)

250g bitter gourd (Karawila)

½ medium sized onion sliced

1 sprig curry leaves

Piece of rampa/ pandan leaves

1-2 green chilies

¼ tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds

½ tspn raw curry powder

1” Piece of cinnamon

½ cup fresh grated coconut

1 piece of goraka/gamboge

Salt to taste


Step 1:

First, wash and slice the bitter gourd into thin slices. Add into water with salt in it.

Squeeze bitter gourd and remove excess water. Keep aside.


Step 2:

Grind fresh coconut into a fine paste together with salt, green chili, curry powder and turmeric powder. Keep aside.

Now we are ready to cook bitter gourd.

Karawila Mallung

Karawila Mallung – Basic cooking steps

Step 3:

In a pan mix bitter gourd, ground coconut paste and other ingredients mentioned above in the ingredients list. Add around 2 tbspn of water and cook in low flame till bitter gourd is tender.

Adjust salt as per taste. Mix well.

Bitter gourd mallung is ready to serve with plain rice.

Karawila Recipes from Sri Lanka

Karawila Recipes from Sri Lanka

Also check this carrot mallung recipe.

If you try this recipe, please don’t forget to let me know how it turns out. If you enjoy this recipe, please share in Social media too.