‘Karela’ or bitter melon is probably the bitterest veggie on the face of this earth and that’s why many people dislike it but… it’s also one of the most beneficial ones for your health! I usually make a stir-fried version but this stuffed karela variation is a particular favourite of all in my family.
Funnily, I didn’t touch this veggie even once before I got married. I used to see family and friends go gaga over stuffed karela and failed to understand their love for a vegetable that is supposed to be severely bitter. Seven years after my marriage, today I loveeeeeeeeee bharwa karele so so much. I make sure that I make a large batch so that I can have karele with hot parathas and tea for breakfast the following day as well. It’s amazing how much our taste and general preferences change as we grow up.
Now, this is a lengthy recipy and technically a bit tricky to nail during the first attempts. It all comes down to the slitting, stuffing, wrapping and frying. Easy, right? In the end, it’s all worth the effort. Trust me. Have a look at the video of karelas on my facebook page or instagram beforehand to get a general idea of this dish.
Give this recipe a go and enjoy folks!!
4 bitter melons (karele)
2 medium sized onions, grated
1 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1-2 tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp mango powder (amchoor)
1 tsp sugar
Salt to taste+ to rub on melons
A roll of thread to loosely wrap the melons
Oil to fry the filling and shallow-frying the stuffed melons
-Using a peeler, scrape the skin of your bitter melons.
-Make a single slit in the middle of each of the melons length wise and remove the seeds and everything from inside the melons. Slit should not meet the top or the bottom end of the melon. Think of it as making a little pocket in the melons for the stuffing. Discard the scraped insides.
-Wash your melons gently but thoroughly under running water. Pat dry with a kitchen towel afterwards.
-Sprinkle generous amount of salt all over and inside the karelas and rub it all over them. Leave them like this for at least 2-3 hours. Salt helps lessen the bitterness of these karelas dramatically.
-In the meantime, prepare the filling. In a wok, take around 2 tbsn of oil.
-Once the oil gets hot, add your fennel seeds. They should crackle instantly.
-Immediately, add your grated onions and mix well. Also throw in the turmeric and salt to taste while the onions get cooked. Fry on medium-low heat for 7-10 minutes, till you see oil leaving the sides of the onion mixture.
-Add the red chilly powder, mango powder and sugar. Mix well and cook for further 3-4 minutes more.
-Switch off the gas and let the mixture cool off.
-Once the three hours have passed, wash the salt off your melons thoroughly and once again, pat dry with the kitchen towel.
-Once the mixture is on room temperature, begin stuffing the karelas. Stuff all the melons (inside the slit) carefully with the onion mixture till they are full. Stuffing should not be under filled or over filled. Retain the leftover stuffing.
-Take the thread and wrap around all the the stuffed karelas individually. Refer to video on my facebook page on instagram to get an idea of how to use the thread. This is to ensure that the stuffing doesn’t fall out while we cook the karelas.
-In a flat shallow sauce-pan, take around 2-3 tbsn of oil.
-One the oil gets hot, lay the stuffed karelas in the pan side by side. Let them cook for about 5 minutes on medium-low heat.
-Using tongs, turn the karelas over to the uncooked side and cook for more 5 minutes. Keep on repeating this step for the four sides of the melons.
-One all the karelas look a bit tender, you can cover the pan and let them cook on low heat, checking every 6-7 minutes and turning them gently. They will take around 20-25 minutes to be uniformly cooked from all the sides.
-Sprinkle the remaining spice mixture over the karelas. Cover the pan and let it cook for 2 more minutes.
-Serve hot with chappatis and lentil soup or as it is, with chapattis or parathas. Stuffed karela can be served hot or cold and can be refrigerated up to a week. Enjoy!