Thursday, 8 November 2012

Karela (Bitter Gourd/ bitter melon)

Karela or Bitter Gourd are as the name suggests are very bitter, however they have a very unique flavour and multiple health benefits.  many people consume them to help control their blood sugar levels and there are many auyrvedic medicines that have been developed using this vegetable to heal people of diabetes. The picture to your left shows how they look in their raw form , I have seen them in english supermarkets but you can readily find these and other varieties in Indian supermarkets.

I eat it because I like the taste of it, it makes a great accompliment to masoor daal which is how I had it today.

This is vegan again, some people cook this using mustard oil, but here is my favourite.

Ingredients for serving 4-6 as side dish 

  • 4-5 Karela
  • 1-2 tbsp salt for the salting
  • 5tbsp Light olive oil or ground nut oil
  • 1 large onion chopped length ways
  • 1 tsp Cumin/ Jeera
  • 1/2 tsp Ajowan/ oregano seeds
  • 1tsp Garam masala
  • 1tsp Amchur powder (sour mango powder)
  • 1tsp Turmeric/ Haldi
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Hand full of fresh chopped coriander


  1. Wash well and chop into slices 3-5 mm thick, place these in a colander and salt with 1-2 tbsp salt, making sure they all get coated, leave to stand over a dish or bowl until they start to dewater. Stir a couple of time to make sure all parts are coated.  Leave for about 2 hours, this will remove the really intense bitterness.
  2. Add your oil to your pan, for this dish I would use a wok or a pan you can move the food easily so it doesn't sweat and boil. You want to brown the karela pieces but not burn them, if they go  a bit black don't worry just adds to the smoky flavour.   You can deep fat fry these instead.
  3. Once they are all coloured set them aside.
  4. Add a little more oil to the pan then the cumin and onion. Cook the onion slowly till it is light brown and is getting sweet.
  5. Add the karela peices back into the pan and add your dry spices, taste and add more amchur if you need it.
  6. Cook for a further 10mins on a slow heat until all the flavours have combined and the karela pieces cooked through.
  7. This is mainly a side dish with roti, naan, or rice of your choice. It is lovely served as a side dish with any daal.  And enjoy!

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