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Bitter served in a bowl with lemon chilli and coriander leaves.
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5 from 10 votes

Bitter Melon Recipe, Karela

Adjust tamarind and sugar as needed to bring a sweet and sour balance that undermines bitter taste. Enjoy this delicious veggies that is full of nutrients with so little calories.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian, Pakistani
Diet Vegetarian
Keyword bitter melon recipe
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Resting Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 250kcal


  • 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.


  1. 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.
  2. If you squeeze the karela hardly they will be less bitter.
  3. Diabetics patient can drink 2 tablespoon of karela juice that we remove in squeezing.
  4. Another methods of removing bitterness of karela is boiling them in salty water, and / or frying karela in oil.


Calories: 250kcal