Stuffed Bitter Gourd : Bharwan Karela

  • Yield : 4
  • Servings : 2
  • Prep Time : 25m
  • Cook Time : 20m
  • Ready In : 45m

One of the Indian main course tastiest main dishes

Stuffed Bitter Gourd or Bharwan Karela as it is called in Northern India is one of the most loved dishes, the recipe for which is different in every household. This recipe of Bharwan Karela has been in the family for generations. Passed on to me by my mother, and she was taught by her mother. Having learnt how to make it first hand, this is the most authentic and traditional recipe that I could produce.

There are several ways bitter gourd, or karela can be prepared. More often than not, I just stir fry it with some potatoes and onions as a side vegetable for afternoon meals. But when I have time on my hand, or have some vegetarian guests coming over, bharwan karela takes priority over any other main course dishes.


If you want to remove all bitterness from the karela, wash it with luke warm water while removing the salt.

If you want it tastier, use mustard oil instead of any other. The sight pungent taste of mustard oil brings out the flavour.

Karela. Also called as Bitter Gourd or Bitter Melon

Momordica charantia, known as bitter melon, bitter gourd, bitter squash or balsam-pear in English, has many other local names. Bitter melon originated on the Indian subcontinent, and was introduced into China in the 14th century.

Bitter melon is often used in Chinese cooking for its bitter flavor, typically in stir-fries, soups, dim sum, and herbal teas.It is very popular throughout India. In North Indian cuisine, it is often served with yogurt on the side to offset the bitterness, used in sabzi or stuffed with spices and then cooked in oil. In Southern India, it is used in the dishes thoran/thuvaran , mezhukkupuratti, theeyal  and pachadi. In Konkan region of Maharashtra, salt is added to finely chopped bitter gourd and then it is squeezed, removing its bitter juice to some extent. After frying this with different spices, less bitter and crispy preparation is served with grated coconut.

In Sri Lanka it is known as Karawila or karavila, and is an ingredient in many different curry dishes. In Pakistan and Bangladesh, bitter melon is often cooked with onions, red chili powder, turmeric powder, salt, coriander powder, and a pinch of cumin seeds. Another dish in Pakistan calls for whole, unpeeled bitter melon to be boiled and then stuffed with cooked minced beef, served with either hot tandoori bread, naan, chappati, or with khichri (a mixture of lentils and rice). In northern India and Nepal, bitter melon is prepared as a fresh pickle called achar.

Bitter melon has been used in various Asian and African herbal medicine systems for a long time. In Turkey, it has been used as a folk remedy for a variety of ailments, particularly stomach complaints. In traditional medicine of India different parts of the plant are used to relieve diabetes, as a stomachic, laxative, antibilious, emetic, anthelmintic agent, for the treatment of cough, respiratory diseases, skin diseases, wounds, ulcer, gout, and rheumatism

Source: Wikipedia


Masala Stuffed Bitter Gourd

Masala Stuffed Bitter Gourd


  • Bitter Gourd 250 gms (4 medium sized ones)
  • Onions 4 chopped finely
  • Fennel seeds 2 Tbsp
  • Cumin Seeds 1 Tbsp
  • Coriander seeds 4 Tbsp
  • Fenugreek seeds 1/4 Tsp
  • Asafoetida 1 pinch
  • Black onion seeds 1/2 Tsp
  • Amchur 1 Tbsp
  • Turmeric 1/2 Tsp
  • Red Chile powder 1/2 Tsp
  • Salt
  • Oil 4 Tbsp


Step 1

Peel the Bitter gourd, and slit it vertically. Rub ample salt all over and let it rest for about 20-25 mins. In the mean while chop the onions and get the masala going.

Step 2

Dry roast Fennel, coriander, cumin and fenugreek seeds and grind them finely.

Step 3

In a pan, heat 1.5 Tbsp oil, add asafoetida, and chopped onions and fry till onions turn pink. As soon as the onions turn pink add to it the roasted and ground masala powder, black onion seeds, Amchur powder, turmeric powder, red chile powder and salt. Sprinkle some water and fry for about 3 minutes on very low flame taking care not to burn the masala. Cool. This is your masala fillling.

Step 4

Wash the salted bitter gourd with water to remove all salt from it. The bitterness of the gourd will be much reduced by now.

Step 5

Carefully stuff the prepared masala filling in each bitter gourd through the slit and tie each of them with a thread.

Step 6

Heat the remaining oil and fry the masala stuffed bitter gourds for 3-4 min on very low flame till they are cooked.

Serving Suggestion:

Stuffed bitter gourds are best served with any Indian flat bread along with lots of tomato cucumber salad. You can also serve as a side dish with Dal and rice.

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