Thai Bitter Melon With Egg

This was my first taste of bitter melon or gourd. I bought this morsel from a street-food stall waiting for a bus in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. Asking what it was the vendor shouted “bittaaa” repeatedly, making a “face”. I was intrigued.

This very simple dish uses just egg with garlic and fresh red chilli. My Chiang Mai dish had lots of very thinly sliced sping onions and a hint of acidity from lime.

Karela; asian bittter gourd

Thai Bitter Melon With Egg

For most people the bitterness of this gourd needs tempering by salting to extract the bitter juice. Sprinke 2-3 tablespoons of salt onto the sliced, de-seeded gourd in a bowwll and leave stand for up to 3o minutes. Squeeze hand-fulls of gourd to extract the juice and run the wholle thing under running water in a sieve or colander until all the salt has been rinsed off
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course any time, Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine oriental, Thai


  • 3-4 bitter gourds de-seeded, tninly sliced and salted
  • 2-3 tbsp canoola or other light oil
  • 3 cloves garlic very finely chopped
  • 3-5 fresh red chillies with or without seeds, finely sliced
  • 1 small bunch spring onions, green and white parts very thinly sliced
  • 4 eggs
  • black pepper to taste
  • light soy sauce to taste
  • 1-2 tsp raw sugar, jaggery, honey, or other sweettener stevia is good here but needs to be used quite sparingly
  • juice of 1/2 a lime (optional)


  • heat the oil in a wide frying pan and lightly fry the garlic without browning
  • break in the eggs, stirring with a sparula to scramble them as they cook
  • scrape the eggs to one side of the pan and add the bitter gourd with the chillies and spring onions
  • when the gourd is half cooked mix with the already cooked eggs and add the sugar and soy sauce. Continue sautéing the gourds until tender but still firm. add a squeeze of lime and serve immediately

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