Though the name is quiet repelling, yet there is hardly any Punjabi family that doesn’t make this veggie called Bitter gourd or karela.
As neem is bitter but every part of this tree is beneficial to us. Same way, in spite of its bitter taste, when cooked on slow heat, karela tastes marvelous and along with the taste it also confers us with its numerous health benefits.
As soon as the summer starts, karela or bitter gourd is a regular feature in my house. I can say I have grown eating it and just the mention of it, makes me drooling for it. We make it either in the form of stuffed karela or kachri karela. One of my uncle, who is diabetic, also drinks karela juice.
Earlier making stuffed karela used to be a very time consuming job.
Washing, peeling, salting, stuffing with ground masala, putting a thread around stuffed karelas and then deep frying it on slow heat. As a kid, I loved to help my mom or grand mother in wrapping threads around karelas. Same thing used to happen when these stuffed karelas were served during dinner time along with dal and chapatis. I was so fond of them that I used to take these in my tiffin with plain parantha. Even now, if any of my colleague has brought karela, I cann’t stop myself from taking a bite of it 😉 .
With the time things change. We look for faster and easier methods. That is the reason, I have started making it in a different way that saves time. So, sometimes I jokingly call it takatak karele. I do not peel it and that’s more nutritious. I first fry the karelas, then stuff them with already bhuna masala and then saute it a bit. This helps me to avoid wrapping and unwrapping threads, again saving time.
Now on to the recipe……
Step Wise Pictorial Description Of Stuffed Karelas
Select firm karelas.
Wash them and put a slit through them. Apply salt liberally all over and keep aside for 30-40 minutes. It will release water.
Wash karelas thoroughly so as to remove excess salt.
Heat mustard oil in a wok on a high flame to its smoking point. Once it starts producing smoke, lower the flame. Squeeze excess water out of karelas and put 5-6 karelas in hot oil.
Fry in medium hot oil till golden brown from all sides.
While you keep karelas after applying salt, in the mean time, prepare masala for stuffing.
Heat 3-4 tablespoons of mustard oil upto its smoking point. Add onion paste to the oil. You can also use finally chopped onions. Saute it till it gets cooked and there is no raw smell of onion. I had grounded chillies along with onion.
Add I teaspoon of ginger paste. Since I didn’t have ginger at that time, so I added ½ teaspoon of ginger powder (sonth).
Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, salt and saute for 1-2 minutes.
Switch off the flame. Add 1 tablespoon of amchur/ mango powder and mix well. We make karelas quiet spicy and sour. You can adjust spiciness and sourness according to your taste.
Cool the mixture and stuff in the fried karelas. Sometimes there is extra stuffing. In fact, I make it deliberately. I stuff this mixture in green chillies and cook then along with karelas.
Take 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan and swirl the pan to coat all sides. Carefully place karelas and chillies (if using) in the pan and cover the pan. Let karelas cool on low heat for about 5 minutes. Flip the sides and again let them cook for another 4-5 minutes.
In another pan take 1 tablespoon of hot mustard oil.
Put sliced onions and saute them till get lightly caramelized.
Add salt, turmeric powder and amchur powder and mix well. Add karelas to the caramelized onions. This step is purely optional. I make it because my husband likes caramelized onions and kids also, who don’t eat karela, love to eat these onions.
Serve stuffed bitter gourd/karelas with dal and chapati or simply enjoy it with plain parantha.