Karela (bitter gourd)

Bitter gourd or Karela (in Hindi) is a very special vegetable. It is very bitter and almost impalatable if eaten without proper cooking technique. But everything that is difficult to eat is usually bursting with health benefits. And so is karela. It is supposed to be very good for cleaning the blood, which leads to beautiful skin, better blood circulation and digestion and even used by diabetic patients. 

As a kid I always used to run away from karela. Somehow even the slight bitter taste would be enough repelling for me. Now when I am all grown up, I love this. Though I have to admit my sister loves this and have loved it ever since she was a kid. So I guess it is kid-to-kid that something would be appealing or not.


6-7 bottle gourd each around 4-5 inches long

4-5 medium sized onion chopped into broad long slices

Fennel seeds – 1 tsp

Cumin seeds – 1/3rd tsp

Oil – 7-8 tbsp

Turmeric (Haldi) – 1/3rd tsp

Red chili powder – 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Dried coriander powder – 1 tsp

Lemon juice – 1 tbsp


To get the bitterness out of the gourd it is important to treat it with salt. Here is how I do it. I first scratch off the pointy skin of the gourds and cut them into thin round slices. Don’t wash them yet. If the seeds are yellow or brown I normally remove them. Now I add 3-4 tsp salt and mix it well with the sliced bitter gourd. Then I transfer them to a bowl and cover with a lid. I left them standing for 6 hours though I don’t think 6 hours are really needed. 3 hours would do as well.

After 6 hours:

Wash the salt-treated bitter gourd with fresh water and throw away all the juices that the bitter gourd has oozed out by this time. Strain away all the water and keep the washed gourd aside.

Take oil in a skillet and let it heat up. When hot add cumin and fennel seeds. Let them crackle for 1 min and then add the onions. Fry the onions until they are slightly translucent. Now add the washed gourd pieces into the onions and let them fry together with the onions until the onions are all brown and the gourd is nicely cooked.

At this stage add all the remaining spices and mix well. 

Finally add the fresh lemon juice and mix again.

The vegetable is ready and usually goes well with roti or paranthas. 

This is really a healthy treat for the body!