Kambu Paria 1_Indonesia EatsKambu Paria is a traditional Indonesian food that is from Bugis ethnic group.  They are inhabited in South Sulawesi province with Ujung Pandang (or Makassar) is the capital city.  The Makassar foods are mostly heavily rich in fish or meat.  One of them is this Kambu Paria.

Bitter melon (Momordica charantia) is also known bitter apple, bitter gourd, bitter squash, or balsam-pear in English or paria and pare in Indonesian.  Although the plant is originated from the South India state of Kerala and started be introduced to China in the 14th century, bitter melon is now widely grown in Asia, Africa and Caribbean.   This tropical and subtropical vine of the family  Cucurbitaceae (a family of watermelon, melon, cucumber, pumpkin, squash and some guards)  is widely used in East AsiaSouth Asia, and Southeast Asia cuisines.

Long before I heard the use in naturopathic medicine, I have eaten bitter melon as a side dish.  I started to enjoy having bitter melon when I moved to Bogor, West Java.  However, there is no evidence yet to support the claim for naturopathic medicine.  Some of the claims are for diabetes, stomach and intestinal problems, to promote menstruation, and many other conditions.  Bitter melon contains a chemical that acts like insulin to help reduce blood sugar levels.  All I know is I love bitter melon as a vegetable or hmm fruit? 

The bitterness that is come from bitter melon in Paria Kambu is actually balancing out the richness of the spiced coconut gravy.  Best to be eaten with warm cooked rice!Ingredients for Paria Kambu Indonesian (Bugis) Stuffed Bitter Melon with Fish

Yield: 4 portions

Kambu Paria: Bugis Stuffed Bitter Melon with Fish

Kambu Paria 1_Indonesia Eats

Kambu Paria is another way to cook bitter melon in Bugis (Makassar), South Sulawesi. Anchovies, spices, grated coconut and white egg are stuffed into bitter melons. Later on, stuffed bitter melon will be cook in spiced coconut gravy.

As bitter as its name and taste, Bitter Melon nevertheless has been claimed to have health benefits such as anti cancer, reduce the blood sugar contain in body and other claims.

Bitter melon itself is an edible fruit however people always refer it as a vegetable.

In a note part, I'll give you some tips how to reduce the bitterness.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes


  • 750 grams (1.65 lbs) bitter melon
  • cooking oil


  • 300 grams (0.66 lbs) gutted and headless large size anchovies (I substituted with smelt fish)
  • 300 grams frozen grated coconut, thawed and toasted
  • 2 egg whites
  • 5 shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoon toasted coriander seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon white peppercorn
  • 1/4 teaspoon toasted cumin seed
  • 2.52 centimetre (1-inch) length galangal
  • 1 lemongrass, take the white part only and chopped
  • seasalt to taste
  • Grind all spice ingredients except fish, coconut and egg whites in a food processor or using a mortar and pestle until smooth.

Coconut Gravy Spices

  • 8 shallots
  • 3 cloves garlics
  • 3 red chilies (add or reduce according to your heat level)
  • 2 centimetre (4/5-inch) length ginger
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon white peppercorn
  • 2 lemongrass, bruised
  • 7 - 8 centimetre (3-inches) length galangal, bruised
  • 2 Indonesian bay leaves (daun salam)
  • 1 teaspoon coconut sugar (gula merah)
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
  • 700 mL (3 cups) thin coconut milk
  • 180 mL (3/4 cup) thick coconut milk
  • seasalt to taste
  • Grind all spices except lemongrass, galangal, Indonesian bay leaves, tamarind paste and coconut milk in a food processor or using a mortar and pestle until smooth.


  1. Cut bitter melon into 3 to 4 centimetre or 1 to 1 1/2 inches length.
  2. Deseed bitter melon.
  3. Pre-boil with salt and water until half-cooked or cover bitter melon with salt and steam until half-cooked.
  4. Rinse off the half-cooked bitter melon with cold water.
  5. In a food processor, chop fish and toasted grated coconut; set a side.
  6. Using a fork or hand, combine fish paste, filling spice paste and egg white.
  7. Stuff bitter melon with fish mixture; set a side. Remain about 1 tablespoon of filling mixture a side.
  8. In a pot or wok, heat up cooking oil and stir in lemongrass, galangal and Indonesian bay leaves for couple seconds. Add in gravy spices paste and continue to stir frying until fragrant.
  9. Add in thin coconut milk and bring to a boil. Once it's boiled, place in stuffed bitter melon and remaining filling mixture. Reduce the heat and continue to simmer until another boil. Add thick coconut milk and tamarind paste. Continue to simmer and keep stirring until another boil.
  10. Taste and add any seasalt if you need to. Ready to serve!


To reduce bitterness from bitter melon, there are two ways that I use:

  • cover cut bitter melon with salt and let it for couple minutes or until wilted. rinse off under cold water prior to use
  • pre-boil cut bitter melon in water and salt. drain and rinse off under cold water.

Paria Kambu 2_Indonesia Eats





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