Stuffed karela or stuffed bitter gourd, is my all-time favorite dish from Indian cuisine. It is a great, healthy side dish.
Stuffed karela, also commonly known as bharwan (bharwan means stuffed in hindi ) karela, is a very interesting dish. Karela or bitter gourd has a very bitter taste. Not many people, I know like eating karela or bitter gourd, just because of its taste.
It has been my favorite since like forever. It is my parents’ favorite and so it was made quite often in our home. I don’t remember if I ever threw tantrums in eating it. Be it stuffed karela, stir fried karela, or potato and karela veggie, I just loved eating it. I still do.
Many people dislike karela or bitter gourd for obvious reason. But those who like it, they vouch for its taste. Stuffed karela is a very strange combination of spices, bitterness and that distinct taste of the bitter gourd other than its bitterness. Those who love eating it, know what am I talking about.
And for those, who totally dislike bitter gourd, I promise this recipe will change your taste of karela forever. Just try it once!! My mom makes the world’s best stuffed karela. And I make it the same way, she does. I am sure you’re just going to love this dish.
Why Stuffed Karela?
Just a few days back, I was going through my blog and I was happy about the fact that I am making a steady progress in this new venture of mine. And thanks to all my readers who motivate me on daily basis to put up here, my tried and tested recipes so that they can try those recipes without a care in the world. Honestly, I feel blessed for the trust you put in me and also so glad that you really like these recipes. Thanks a bunch for this!!
So while going through the blog, I noticed, it doesn’t have my most favorite side dish recipe! And that was when I decided to shoot a recipe for stuffed karela. I know many of you would just think why this simple recipe here? and many wouldn’t even care to read it completely for the reason of disliking bitter gourd but trust me for this one recipe, like you all have always done, and it won’t disappoint you. Your outlook towards karela is going to change forever. So, read on!!
Health Benefits of Karela
Well, karela or bitter gourd being my favorite is not the only reason why I have included a karela recipe in my blog. It is also because of its health benefits.
Diabetes – Yes, Karela is great for diabetic people. It has a compound which works similar to insulin and thus helps in reducing sugar level in our body, naturally. Karela juice is advised best for the diabetic patients. Though if you decide to start karela for this purpose, do remember to consult your doctor first.
Besides this, karela is;
- a great IMMUNITY BOOSTING vegetable
- good for EYES
- prevents SKIN PROBLEMS
- good for HAIR
- a DETOXIFYING vegetable
- HEALS wound quickly
So, you see karela is not that bad. In fact, it is one of the best vegetables we have, if you can forgive its little (really!) bitter taste.
Important Tips for Stuffed Karela
1.Bitterness – If you dislike karela for its bitter taste, then here’s a solution for it. Whenever you decide to cook karela or bitter gourd, just do a little preparation. After washing karela nicely, cut or slice it according to the dish you are making and then rub salt all over it nicely. Not too much but just make sure you rub all pieces of karela with salt. Leave it like that for about 10 min. Karela or bitter gourd will release water. Throw it away and wash them again with clean water. Dry and use.
This way the bitterness will reduce to a greater extent. And please don’t ask me how much bitterness will remain, because I never do this step. I love the bitter taste of karela. I feel, that bitter flavor is its uniqueness and I don’t like to eat any karela veggie without that bitter taste. So, for making stuffed karela, after you have removed the seeds and skin of the karela, you can do this little step and reduce the bitter taste of bitter gourd. Well, that sounds contradictory (reduce the bitter taste of bitter gourd) !!
2. Filling – There are many types of fillings made for stuffed karela. You can make the filling with potatoes, paneer (cottage cheese), besan (gram flour) mixed with onions etc. The one which I make gives the best taste in stuffed karela. In fact, I personally feel, that karelas made with potatoes filling is such a cheat dish. But then, opinions vary and food is, as I have always said, what pleases you. So, you can choose a variety of fillings for stuffed karela. The taste of stuffed karela or bitter gourd comes out great in mustard oil.
3. Seeds and skin – I make the filling for bitter gourd with its own seeds and skin. Nothing goes waste from karela. It is a wonder food and should be included completely in your diet for maximum benefit. So, the seeds and skin, for using in filling are crushed lightly. The texture is somewhere between that of a paste and whole seeds. This way the taste of karela is enhanced manifold.
4. Frying – Stuffed karela are shallow fried over a medium flame. Some like it just about cooked and don’t brown it much. Some like it to get little crispy from outer side. Both ways, it tastes great.
5. Tying – It is a common practice to tie the stuffed karela for preventing the filling to fall out from it while cooking it. I also do it most of the times but sometimes I also cook these without tying them. It’s okay to do it anyway.
Some other interesting recipes;
Serving Options of Stuffed Karela
In Indian cuisine, stuffed karela is generally served as a side dish in the main course. It is wonderful to eat with chapatis smeared with desi ghee (clarified butter). You can also choose to eat it with parathas or naan.
Stuffed karela is also greatly enjoyed with rice and dal. That way, it gives a good bite to the meal.
Recipe Video of Stuffed Karela
- Karela (bitter gourd) – 7-8
- Onions – 6-7 medium (grated)
- Mustard oil – 2 tbsp + 4 tbsp
- Jeera (cumin seeds) – 1 tsp
- Haldi (turmeric powder) – 1/2 tsp
- Saunf (fennel seeds) – 2 tbsp (roasted and crushed)
- Garam Masala – 1 tsp
- Amchoor (dry mango) powder – 1 tsp
- Kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves) – 1 tsp
- Salt as per taste
1.Wash and clean karelas (bitter gourd). Do not remove the ends of the karela.
2. Take a karela and make a slit, length-wise. Be careful not to cut it completely.
3. Now remove the seeds and flesh from inside the karela and make it hollow from inside.
4. Also scrape the skin of karela, very lightly. You can apply salt on karela after this step if you wish to reduce the bitter taste of bitter gourd.
5. Like wise prepare all the karela. Keep the seeds, flesh and skin of karela. Do not throw them. They will be used in the filling. Grate and keep onions ready. Do not make paste of onions. Throw away the seeds which are very hard.
6. In a pan, heat 3 tbsp oil and put jeera (cumin seeds). Let them crackle.
7. Add grated onions and saute on high for 1 minute or so.
8. Add haldi (turmeric) powder, mix and cook on high for about 2-3 minutes.
9. Now add karela (bitter gourd) seeds and skin. Crush them lighlty before adding to onions.
10. Add salt as per taste and mix everything. I like to add a little more salt than required, as the cover of karela is plain and the salt will get balanced later on.
11. Cover and cook on medium flame, until done.
12. Add roasted and crushed saunf (fennel seeds), garam masala and amchoor (dry mango powder). Mix everything and cook on high for 1-2 minutes. Add kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves) and mix.
13. Let it cool before stuffing it in karela.
14. Now take karela, and fill it with this filling. Do not over fill it or else while cooking the filling will come out of the karela.
15. Stuff and prepare all karelas like this.
16. Heat oil in a pan and put karelas in it.
17. Cover and cook on medium low to medium heat.
18. Keep turning the sides of karela in between for even cooking.
19. Once done, serve them hot with Chapati or rice.
Do cook this wonderful and healthy vegetable and let me know in comments how it came out. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Mix. To get my cooking stories straight into your inbox, do SUBSCRIBE the blog.
Enjoy the recipes and do walk with me in this culinary journey of Indian cuisine made easy, “from my palate to yours”.