Bharwan Karela/Stuffed Bitter gourd

I have never been a fan of karela or bitter gourd. As the name suggests karelas can be very bitter and that is why as a kid (and adult!) I had a tough time eating this vegetable (fruit?). Its the kind of vegetable that people either hate or love. And although I would like to say I hate it, because of its nutritional benefits, its something that I keep trying to love.

Even though bitter gourd can be very bitter, it is full with benefits for your body and the only reason why when V suggested we buy some from the Indian grocery store I did not refuse. In India, a lot of diabetics have bitter gourd juice since it is known to reduce blood sugar levels. Besides being good for diabetics, bitter gourd also has other nutritional benefits, and is rich in vitamins and minerals. It is supposed to be a good cure for hangover too. Karele ka juice is also great for treating acne and clearing your skin up. Being low in calorie it is also great for those trying to keep a watch on that waist line.

Bharwan Karela/Stuffed Bitter gourd

One does have to get past its taste though to reap the benefits of Karela. But as I learnt with this recipe, if prepared correctly, you can remove much of the bitterness and actually get a dish that even I enjoyed. One of the most popular way to reduce the bitterness is to salt the bitter gourd and leave it for some time. Then squeeze the juice out, wash the gourd and cook it. I reserve the squeezed out juice and drink it like a shot, that ways I don’t lose out on any of the nutrients in the juice. Of course I wince with every gulp I take, but I keep reminding myself of the benefits and see myself through. Frying the gourd is another way to reduce the bitterness.

My grandmother would make a stuffed karela recipe which everyone enjoyed. Hers was the only way I would eat, if I would eat. Unfortunately, my grandmom is no more and I never got a chance to take the recipe from her because I never thought I would willingly make karela at home.

Bharwan Karela/Stuffed Bitter gourd

This recipe is adapted from Jiggs Kalra’s cookbook Prashad. Prashad and India: The Cookbook are two cookbooks I would recommend to anyone who is interested in Indian cooking. They are both my absolute favorite. While India: The Cookbook I bought after reading reviews on Amazon, Prashad was gifted to be my parents when they first came to visit me in the States. They have a copy too of the cookbook and after years of cooking from it, they knew I would appreciate it as much as they have.

You can find bitter gourd in Indian grocery stores. I do hope you get to try it, but if its your first time trying this vegetable be warned that it is not to everyone’s liking.

Bharwan Karela/ Stuffed Bitter Gourd: Garam Masala Tuesdays
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 1 kg or 2 lbs medium size bitter gourd/karela
  • salt
  • 16 pearl onions ( I had only 4-5 so I used only that)
  • 1¾ cups onions, pounded to a coarse paste
  • 1 tsp amchoor or mango powder
  • ½ tsp black pepper powder
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  1. Wash the karela. Peel it, reserving the scrapings in a bowl.
  2. Slit each karela on one side. Remove the seeds from the inside. Rub it with salt and add some salt to the scrapings. Keep aside for at least 30 minutes, preferably in the sun.
  3. Squeeze the bitter gourd and scrapings separately. I used my nut milk bag to squeeze the juice out. I reserve the liquid to gulp it like a shot. Its salty but the juice is where a lot of the nutrients lie and I do not want to lose out on them.
  4. Wash and dry the bitter gourd. Dry it with a napkin.
  5. Mix the coarsely pounded onions with the mango powder, black pepper powder, red chilli powder and turmeric powder.
  6. Keep ¼ th of the filling aside. Divide the rest of the filling equally and stuff the slit karelas. Seal the karelas with a string so that the filling does not come out.
  7. Heat oil in a wok/kadhai. Shallow fry the stuffed gourd over medium heat turning constantly until cooked. Remove from pan and keep aside.
  8. In the same pan shallow fry the remaining filling, scraping and pearl onions for a few minutes. Return the stuffed cooked gourd to the pan and stir for 2 minutes.
  9. Serve warm with flat bread.


Bharwan Karela/Stuffed Bitter gourd

9 Thoughts on “Bharwan Karela/ Stuffed Bitter Gourd: Garam Masala Tuesdays

  1. I too could never enjoy this veggie and the funny thing is during my first trimester of pregnancy, all I wanted to eat is bitter gourd 😀 These days I make it occasionally as crispy fry but I am so tempted to try this stuffed version cause yours looking quite stunning. My husband might love it a lot more than I do!
    Kankana recently posted..Mushroom And Sausage In Garlic Wine SauceMy Profile

  2. Husband’s favorite. My mom adds potato to he mix sometimes and it tastes pretty awesome 🙂

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  3. i loveeeeeeee bitter gourd but have no idea how to cook…i like the achari version too which is sooo spicy/greasy and i only eat when my boyfriend’s family will make it. i will definitely give this a try..i will have to pick some bitter gourd at the indian store.
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  4. Pamela on 15 July, 2016 at 7:03 pm said:

    I can get bitter gourd here in Japan, it is called gōyā. It is mostly eaten in Okinawa, but up here in the Tokyo area in the summer, it is easy to get.

    I have a question: the gōyā I get have lots of fiber and seeds on the inside, which we scrape out before slicing and stir frying. You don’t mention taking the seeds out. I wonder, do you leave them in?? Maybe the bitter gourd is harvested younger in India?? So the seeds might be small or non existent. The seeds are not so soft.

    Interesting note: some people here grate the bitter gourd and squeeze the juice and drink that!

    • Oh we do remove the seeds, I somehow failed to mention that in the recipe. You have to remove the seeds and then fill it with the filling. I will update the recipe. Thank you for bringing it to my attention and also sharing your experience.

  5. Pingback: Bitter Gourd Juice Recipe For Psoriasis | Psoriasis Herbs

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