Seasonal eating is a rage all over the world these days. However, in India, it never went out of fashion and we grew up eating seasonal fruits and vegetables, freshly prepared using spices and herbs. Karela is one of the vegetables cooked regularly in Punjabi homes during the summer months. It’s one of my absolutely favourite dishes to eat with mangoes and lassi (cooling drink made from yogurt) during the hot summer month.
Karela, called bitter gourd, is also well known for numerous health benefits and its juice, though extremely bitter, is a well-known remedy in Ayurvedic medicine. While it’s great to drink the bitter juice for health reason, a bitter vegetable dish probably wouldn’t be a great hit with anyone apart from the health nuts! One of the commonly used methods from removing bitterness is to make the vegetables sweat by salting them and then squeezing the excess water from the vegetables.
In this recipe, I have used saunf (fennel seeds) which adds a lovely touch of sweetness to the dish. I hope that you won’t be scared off by the bitterness and will give it a try. I promise that it’s delicious!
- 10 bitter gourd karela
- 5-6 medium onions (2-3 inch in diameter) sliced, length wise but not too thin
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 2-3 tssp fennel seeds saunf
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 2 tsp mango powder amchoor
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 4-5 tbsp mustard oil smoked
- 1 tbsp besan black chickpea flour
- 2 tsp pomegrenate powder anardaana powder
- Salt to taste
- Remove all the peel from karela and using a sharp knife, make a slit length wise on the karelas to create the opening for adding the spice filling. Light green is after the karela has been peeled. Make sure to remove the all peel.
- Rub the salt all over and inside the slit. Set them aside for two hours.
- After two hours, tightly squeeze the karelas to remove any juice. After removing the juice, wash the karelas thoroughly and squeeze any water.
- Mix together salt, turmeric, fennel seeds, coriander powder, red chilli powder, mango powder and pomegrenate powder.
- Fill up the slit of each karela with the spice mix. Set aside the remaining spice mix
- Mix besan powder with water to make a thick paste. Use the paste to close up the slit in each karela.
- Heat up 2-3 tbsp mustard oil and once the oil is hot, add the karelas with slit side on the bottom.
- Cook the karelas by alternating between high and medium heat. Turn over the karelas couple of times to make sure that they are browned on all sides. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until all sides are browned.
- In parallel, set another pan on heat. Add 2 tbsp of oil and once the oil is hot, add the sliced onions.
- Cook the onions by alternating between high and medium heat. You don't want to over cook and want them sightly crunchy. Stir regularly to prevent burning and cook until the onions are slightly translucent.
- Add the remaining spice mix and cook for 2-3 minutes.