Karela (Bitter melon or gourd)

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“As the name suggests, karela are bitter but are known to have therapeutic value, especially for those suffering from diabetes. When tomatoes and other vegetables are mixed with it, the bitterness is reduced. Traditionally people first scrape karela and remove the hard skin. Then they rub salt in them and let them rest for about 1 hour. Then they squeeze out bitter water before using. Karela can be used with any meal or in a sandwich or pita bread. You may prepare them in advance, and refrigerate or freeze them. Or you may freeze uncooked karela. Buy them fresh, when in season, and rinse, trim, and cut them before freezing.”

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Rinse bitter melon.
  2. Trim on both ends as needed and scrape any blemishes or hard skin.
  3. Cut into small rounds.
  4. Heat the oil in a skillet on medium-high heat.
  5. Add karela almost in a single layer; stir and cook until brownish.
  6. Reduce the heat if they tend to burn.
  7. Add the onions, potatoes and all the seasonings; stir until the potatoes are cooked.
  8. Add the tomatoes.
  9. Cook slowly on medium low heat, half covered, stirring as needed, until everything is cooked.
  10. Variation: To make STUFFED KARELA: Mix all the seasonings for stuffing, substituting 1 teaspoon cumin powder for cumin seeds.
  11. Using a paring knife, make a long slit in each karela, from one end to another (leaving two ends and bottom of the pod intact).
  12. Keep the slit open with your thumb and use a spoon to fill the opening with the stuffing.
  13. Stuff all the karela this way.
  14. Cook karela in a wide skillet using 2 tablespoons oil, almost in a single layer, on medium heat.
  15. Stir gently so that stuffing does not come out.
  16. When half cooked, add the onions.
  17. Reduce heat to medium low, cooking slowly, half covered or uncovered, until karela are browned.

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