Masala Stuffed Karela or Bitter Melon curry

Karela  is also known as Bitter melon or bitter gourd.  It  grows as a vine in tropical areas like East Africa and Asia.  A lot of the green houses in botanic gardens in UK also grow them.  There are several species of Karela.  I used the course and rough looking ones for my recipe. Karelas are supposed to be very good for diabetics because of their bitter taste.  Some people add sugar or jaggery to make Karela curry edible but if you are a diabetic, please exclude sugar or jaggery from the recipe.

Ingredients (serves 2):

For the stuffing:

    • 2 tablespoons Chickpea flour
    • 2 tablespoons cumin powder
    • 2 tablespoons coriander powder
    • 2 teaspoon Salt
    • 1 teaspoon Chilly powder
    • 4 gloves of crushed garlic
    • Fresh Ginger, 1 tablespoon crushed (optional)
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice.
    • 1 or 2 tablespoons jaggery
    • 4-5 tablespoons cooking oil
    • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

For the curry:

  • 2 long karelas
  • 1 onion


1.   Wash and peel the karelas using a potato peeler or sharp knife.

2.    Cut each karela into 3 or 4 long pieces and slice them across as shown below:

3.    Remove any seeds that may be in the karela.

4.    Boil a saucepan of  water with 1 teaspoon of salt.

5.    Add the karelas to this water and cook until the karelas are soft

6.    Whilst the Masala Stuffed Karela or Bitter Melon curry are cooking – prepare the spices for the stuffing. Mix the chickpea flour, cumin and coriander powder, salt , chilly powder, jaggery, crushed ginger and garlic in a saucepan. Add a couple of tablespoons of oil and stir the mixture. This mixture needs to be warmed gently until you get an aroma of the spices. For those of you who are unsure, I would suggest that you cover the mixture and microwave it for a minute, stir it and microwave it again for 30 seconds. For Masala Stuffed Karela or Bitter Melon curry, the masala should be moist.  If it looks dry, add a tablespoon of oil.  Stir and allow to cool.

7.     Once the karelas have softened, drain out the water and allow the karelas to cool.  By doing this, a lot of the bitterness from the karela is removed.

8.    Squeeze the karelas gently to remove any water it may have soaked up.

9.    Fill the masala in each piece of karela

10.   Chop the onions.

11.      Heat 2 tablespoons of oil and add one tablespoon of mustard seeds.

12.      Once they finish popping, add the onions to the oil and stir well.

13.      Now add the karelas to sit on top of the onions. Do this even before the onions start cooking.

14.     Any masala you have left over should be sprinkled on top of the karelas.

15.     Once this has cooked for 5 minutes, turn the karelas one by one and cook for a further 5 minutes.

16.    Add the lemon juice and  curry is ready to serve with hot chapattis.

My recipe for making stuffing for vegetable curries is here

Other ways of cooking karela is here  and here 

Some of recipes using a similar blend of masala are listed below:

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