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Stuffed Karela (Bitter Melon)

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Serves 4 | Prep Time 30 | Cook Time 60

Why I Love This Recipe

Bitter melon has been used in traditional medicine for various ailments, including diabetes and skin conditions.

Ingredients You'll Need

500 grams Bitter melon (Karela), about 12-14
2 teaspoon Salt , to rub and remove bitterness, divided
4 tablespoon Mustard oil, or other vegetable oil, for frying
Cilantro , to garnish
1 tablespoon Mustard oil , or any vegetable oil
1/8 teaspoon Asafoetida (Hing)
2 1/2 cup Onions, finely diced
1 inch Ginger, grated
7 cloves Garlic, diced
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Ground Turmeric (Haldi powder)
1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
2 teaspoon Coriander powder (Dhaniya powder)
1 teaspoon Ground Cumin (Jeera powder)
2 teaspoon Fennel powder
2 teaspoon Dry Mango powder (Amchur), or tamarind paste or grated raw mango


Wash karela and then using a knife or peeler, scrape the outer skin. Save the skin, as we will use it for the stuffing.

Make a slit in the karela lengthwise. Do not split in half. Now remove any large hard seeds using a spoon (you can use your fingers, but it can be harder).

Apply salt thoroughly on the inside and outside of all the karela and keep aside for at least 30 minutes. This helps to reduce the bitterness.

Add 1/2 teaspoon salt to the scrapings, mix well and kept aside. Let them rest for 30 minutes. (Note: using the scrapings is optional, but I like to use them in the stuffing)

Now wash karela with fresh water two to three times and squeeze them thoroughly to remove the salt and bitterness.

Wash the scrapings with fresh water two times and squeeze any excess liquid.

Heat a pan on medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to it, and let it heat. If using mustard oil, heat the oil till it smokes.

Now add asafoetida and scrapings (also called bhor) to the pan. Cook for about 7-8 minutes on medium heat until the color changes to dark green.

Add the onions, ginger and garlic to the pan. Give it a good stir. Cook covered for about 3 minutes to soften the onions. Then cook uncovered for 2-3 minutes till the onions are lightly golden.

Add all the spices – salt, turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, fennel powder and amchur. Mix well and cook for a minute. Then turn off heat.

Now the stuffing is ready. Let it cool a bit, so you can stuff it in the karelas.

Using a spoon and your fingers, stuff each karela with the filling. Tie the karelas with a string. This is helpful so the filling does not fall out. If you plan to air fry, then it is okay to skip using a string.

Heat a large heavy bottom pan on medium heat. Add oil to it, and let it heat. If using mustard oil, heat the oil till it smokes.

Place the stuffed karela in the pan in a single layer. Let them cook for 2-3 minutes, then turn and cook till they brown on all sides. You can cover with a lid for faster cooking.

Once cooked, remove karela on a plate lined with paper towel. Remove the thread. Serve them as a side dish with roti and dal for a wonderful meal.

Place the stuffed karela in the air fryer basket. Spray or brush with a little oil. Air fryer at 360°F / 180°C for about 15 minutes. Turn in between at about 9 minutes.

Pairs Well With

A refreshing minty lemonade

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