This is one of the most delicious and easy bitter melon recipes Indian/Pakistani style, you'll find on the web. Bitter melon or bitter gourd is a notorious vegetable in proverbs and sayings for its bitter flavor like ‘karwa karela’, ‘karela si batein’ but the bitterness has sweet effects on health. Kerela/ bitter melon is just like other vegetables, the trick is to cut its bitterness to an enjoyable level. Like it will still be slightly bitter but the bitter sour taste is the delicacy of this vegetable.
Taste of this Bitter Melon recipe Indian/Pakistani
First of all a confession, I love the Bitter melon recipe Indian style, AKA Karela. And so I’ve developed a recipe that tastes absolutely delicious. This is actually a simple recipe that is a staple in our home and my mother in law’s recipe. The onion tomato masala along with lemon/ tamarind and sugar undermines the bitter taste of karela. And it tastes delightfully yummy with background bitterness.
Few tip to make bitter melon less bitter
These are general tips for any bitter melon or karela recipes. You need to cut down the bitterness of bitter melon by some method.
- Peeling bitter melon help reduce the bitterness.
- Most popular is frying sliced bitter melon. I personally do not like this method as it losses a lot of nutrients by frying the vegetable while adding extra calories to the meal.
- The second one is applying little salt and lemon on the bitter melon and leaving it for at least 30 minutes. You can also apple the salt-lemon rub up to 12 hours ahead, which makes the whole process very easy.
- Try to get organic bitter melon for the best taste.
Benefits of Bitter Melon or Karela
I'm also adding a few benefits of karela that might help motivating you and others in the family to eat Kerala/bitter gourd more often.
- low-calorie (17 calorie/ 1oo gm)
- rich in dietary fiber, minerals (folates), vitamins C, and anti-oxidants.
- It contains plant insulin (polypeptide-P) and hypoglycemic agent (charantin). Both are helpful in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
- You can find more benefits here at Healthline.
How to make Bitter Melon recipe, karela Indian/Pakistani Style
Prepping bitter melon
- Step 1: Most Indians/Pakistani would peel bitter melon before slicing and that’s what I do. First, wash the bitter gourd and peel it lightly, just remove ridges to have smooth skin. You can use a peeler which really hastens the process.
- Then you cut bitter melon lengthwise and remove the seed. If the seeds are red it just shows it is slightly over-ripened. If the flesh is stiff and fresh it is still good and edible. If the flesh is rotting then chop off the rotten parts and use the good ones.
- Then slice these into semi-circles.
- Step 2-3: Apply lemon and salt to the slices and mix well. Then let it rest for 30 minutes at least preferably 2 hours. (The longer the less bitter. You can also do this a day ahead, and store it in the fridge.)
- Step 4: Now, wash the sliced bitter melon (karela) and squeeze it between two palms. I squeeze lightly as a lot of benefits are in its juice. (The more you squeeze juice the less bitter it is.) Discard the juice. This will cut some bitterness of the vegetable. (You can drink this juice actually if you dare, it’s nutritious.)
Hurray! The Prep are done and we can proceed to gravy. The gravy require some cooking time so you can also do washing step while onion tomato gravy simmers on low heat.
Steps to make bitter melon recipe
- Step 1: In a vessel take oil and saute garlic till lightly golden, keep the flame low.
- First, add dry spices, like mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds in oil, next add powdered spices, turmeric, and coriander.
- Step 2: Add onions, mix well and saute till onion for 3-4 minutes on medium flame or till they turn soft.
- Step 3: Next add chopped tomatoes, green chilies, and ginger and stir well and cover. Cook for 5 minutes on medium heat till tomatoes are soft.
- Step 4: Add sliced bitter melon to the onion and tomato gravy. Season with salt, sugar, and tamarind pulp. ( If you don't have tamarind pulp, you can use tamarind chutney or sauce too. Then DO NOT add sugar. I've tried adding barbecue sauce and it tastes yummy, I recommend it only if you like some fusion in your food.)
- Step 5: Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes until bitter melons (karela)are soft. You might need to stir at intervals and adjust the heat.
- Step 6: Now, add 2 tablespoons of oil and stir vegetable on high heat for 60-90 seconds. This little searing (bhunnofying) will burn any excess water and enrich the taste.
Since, Karela is so special to me, if you like it please leave a comment. I’ll be delighted to hear.
My other vegetable recipes :
- Okra (bhindi) recipe
- Mustard Greens (sarson) recipe
- Spinach and potato ( aloo palak) recipe
- Aubergine and potato (Aloo baingan) recipe
- Mix vegetable curry recipe
Bitter Melon Recipe, Karela
- 500 gram Bitter melon, (karela)
- 4 tablespoon oil, or more
- ½ tablespoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, (sabut zeera)
- ½ teaspoon mustard seed, (kali rai)
- ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds, (methi dana)
- ½ tablespoon coriander powder, (dhanya powder)
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder, (haldi powder)
- 2 medium onion, chopped, (piyaz)
- 2 medium tomatoes, , chopped
- 1 tablespoon green chili paste, (choti hari mirch)
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste, (adrak)
- salt, to taste
- 1-2 tablespoon tamarind pulp (or 3 tablespoon lemon juice)
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar, or sugar
- fresh coriander, for garnish
- Wash and peel bitter melon, cut in half, remove flesh and seeds. Cut into thick slices.
- In a bowl take sliced bitter melon and add 1 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoon lemon juice. mix well and leave for at least 30 minutes.
- In a vessel take oil, heat on low flame and add garlic and fry till light golden.
- Add dry whole spices (cumin, fenugreek, mustard) first, then powder spices (turmeric and coriander powder) Saute for 1 minute.
- Add chopped onion, saute till onions are translucent.
- Add chopped tomatoes, green chilli and ginger cover and cook for 5 minutes on low flame or till tomato are soft.
- While gravy cooks, wash bitter melon slices in water and squeeze them to reduce bitterness.
- Add sliced bitter melon, tamarind and brown sugar in gravy and cook for 10 minutes until soft.
- Add 2 tablesppon oil and saute on high heat for a minute or more. Serve hot.
- Vegetable are lighter food so I don't add a lot of whole spices (garam masala), just cumin,and instead I use mustard, fenugreek, kalonji to add both taste and health benefit of these seeds. So they are optional ingredients.
- If you squeeze the karela hardly they will be less bitter.
- Diabetics patient can drink 2 tablespoon of karela juice that we remove in squeezing.
- Another methods of removing bitterness of karela is boiling them in salty water, and / or frying karela in oil.
If you know of better ways to cut bitterness of karela, please share. We would love to know.