Jasmine Scented Candied Wild Bitter Gourd
(mara khee nohk cheuuam ; มะระขี้นกเชื่อม)

By: Hanuman
🔊 Listen to the Thai name pronunciation

Our ancestors, the early humans, had to base their food selection only on their senses. Sweet was energy, umami indicated the presence of proteins and saltiness was the sign for the much needed minerals. Generally, they avoided sour taste because it represented rotten or spoiled food, and bitter was the taste tonics and remedies were made of, and yes, it is now confirmed that bitter gourds are good for you.

Wild bitter gourds are smaller and much bitterer than their relative, the Chinese bitter gourd. (see: Clear soup of bitter gourd stuffed with pork) I love to use them in Jungle curries, or just biting them fresh when serving chili relishes.

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In this recipe we will eliminate some of the bitterness by repetitively covering the fruits with salt and washing the bitterness away with a lot of water.

But before we will merge the bitterness of the gourds with the sweetness of the jasmine scented sugar syrup, we will have to soak them overnight in a clear solution of Thai red pickling lime (calcium hydroxide mixed with turmeric) (available in Thai markets as pboon deang; ปูนแดง) to strengthen their cellular structure, resulting in a finish product that is beautifully crispy and crunchy.

These candied wild bitter gourds would serve as a wonderful confection, served either on its own or as condiment alongside other dishes.

Many songs were written about the taste of bitter love and this recipe is dedicated to my love of bitter taste.

Jasmine Scented Candied Wild Bitter Gourd(mara khee nohk cheuuam ; มะระขี้นกเชื่อม)
Hanuman from Thaifoodmaster
These candied wild bitter gourds would serve as a wonderful confection, served either on its own or as condiment alongside other dishes
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Prep Time 12 hours
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 12 hours 25 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Thai
Servings 12


  • 1/2 Kg bitter gourd (มะระขี้นก) Fresh
  • 3 cups sea salt (เกลือทะเล)
  • 3 cups Thai red pickling (limestone) solution (น้ำปูนแดง)
  • 3 cups granulated sugar (น้ำตาลทราย)
  • 3 cups water (น้ำเปล่า)
  • 1 teaspoons essence of jasmine


  • มะระขี้นก 1/2 กิโล
  • เกลือป่น 3 ถ้วย
  • น้ำปูนแดงใส 3 ถ้วย
  • น้ำตาลทรายขาว 3 ถ้วย
  • น้ำเปล่า 3 ถ้วย
  • กลิ่นมะลิ 1/2 ช้อนชา


  • Mix 3 cups of water with Thai red pickling lime. Let the solution to settle overnight leaving the lime sediments and a clear solution. Set aside
    ผสมปูนแดงกับน้ำเปล่า ใส่ในโหลแก้ว แล้วทิ้งไว้จนปูนตกตะกอน และพักเอาไว้.
  • Select fruits that are fresh and uniform in size. Wash and dry well.
    เลือกมะระขนาดเล็กขนาดเท่า ๆ กัน ล้างให้สะอาด
  • Cut the bitter gourds in halves, and with a spoon scope out the seeds.
  • Cover with salt and leave to rest for about 20 minutes.
    โรยเกลือป่นลงไป ทิ้งเอาไว้ประมาณ 20 นาที
  • Wash well.
  • Repeat the salt treatment for another two times; wash In between treatments to eliminate the bitterness.
    โรยเกลือ และ ล้างน้ำ ทำอย่างนี้ต่อไป อีกสองครั้ง
  • Soak overnight in the clear solution of Thai red pickling lime.
  • Discard the pickling solution.
  • Wash well to eliminate any traces and smell of the Thai red pickling lime.
  • In a copper pot dissolve sugar with water over low heat.
    ตั้งกระทะทองเหลืองด้วยไฟอ่อน ผสมน้ำเปล่ากับน้ำตาลทราย แล้วคนจนน้ำตาลทรายละลายหมด
  • Add essence of jasmine.
  • When the syrup has thickened add the gourds.
    พอน้ำเชื่อมเริ่มข้น ใส่มะระตามลงไป
  • Cook until transparent and the syrup has become thick.
    เคี่ยวน้ำเชื่อมต่อไป น้ำเชื่อมซึมเข้าไปในเนื้อมะระ
  • Cool down and serve.
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