Karela (Bitter melon or gourd)

Total Time
Prep 15 mins
Cook 15 mins

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.


Most Helpful

It is a wonderful recipe i made this last night and me and my hubby enjoyed it . we even didn't feel the bitterness of karela much . before this i only fried karela with potato and onion and now i have this another recipe so thankyou very very much

farhat hasan June 11, 2009

Mom used to make this all the time when I was a kid and I always hated it! I thought I would make it for myself and my husband. It's really hard to measure what a pound of Karela is. It would have been more helpful to have stated the number of Karela (large, medium, or small) that were required for the recipe. I purchased 4, and having never bought bitter melon before, I had no idea how to pick them out. I ended up getting 2 that were perfect, and 2 that were very very ripe - the seeds of the ripe ones were bright red and gooey! I ended up scooping the seeds out and usinng the remaining part. Make sure they are hard and not squishy when purchasing. Also, I rubbed salt like suggested and squeezed out as much of the bitterness as possible. It was still bitter, but delicious! And it was even better knowing that I was eating something that is very good for me! Thanks for the recipe.

Monu October 07, 2006

I hated karelas with a vengeance until I saw this recipe review. Oh my god, this is so good! I made the stuffed version and it went wonderfully well with puneri Dal Recipe #110187 and basmati rice. Thanks!

rosewater February 22, 2006

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