Delicious Karela Fry

by b24

A really simple recipe for fried bitter melon or karela

Karela is also known as bitter melon, ampalaya, bitter squash, and many other names. In India, the vegetable is abundant during the hot summer months. As the name suggests, bitter melon is, well, bitter. Because of the bitterness, many people steer clear of it. However, karela can be prepared in numerous ways which can help to reduce or remove its bitterness.

We have a vegetable garden and during the summer, we get to have a lot of bitter melons. Most of the time, we make fried karela and other times, we pickle the karela. There are times when we have more of them than we know what to do with and we have to sun-dry them and store them for later use.

Among the many recipes for bitter melon, our favorite is fried karela. We make it really crispy and stuff it with a yummy mix or spices that help to add zing to the karela. There are so many different variations of fried bitter melon. There are people who prefer to cook them sliced thinly, some prefer to fry them tied up with the stuffing inside, and still others prefer to cook the karela and the spice mix separately.

In this article, I am sharing a simple recipe for fried karela. It involves cooking the spice mix and the vegetable separately so that both are cooked well (especially the karela).

Delicious Karela Fry

Delicious Karela Fry

a simple recipe for fried bitter melon

Prep time 60 min  -  Total time 90 min
Ingredients for 3 servings
4 - 6 pieces of karela or bitter melon  • 1 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)  • 5 - 6 medium-sized onions ground to a paste  • 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste  • 1 tsp garam masala powder  • salt  • vegetable oil for frying  • 1 tsp powdered coriander  • 1 tsp powdered fennel seeds  • 2 - 3 green chilies ground to a paste

The first step is to wash and then peel the karela by scraping off the outer skin as thinly as possible.

A long slit must be cut on the bitter melon so that it forms a pocket for the stuffing. If the seeds are pink or red, they must be removed as they are ripe and will be tough to eat. However, if the seeds are small, white and are easily cut by a knife, they can be left inside as they are soft and can be eaten.

Salt must be rubbed all over the skinned bitter melons (karela) and some salt sprinkled on the inside (via the slit)

Put the salted karela on a colander (or any bowl with holes for the liquid to seep out) and leave for about an hour so that the moisture leaks out. (The best way is to take it out into the sun and leave it to dry in sunlight for a few hours if you can spare the time).

As the karela is marinating, heat oil in a pan.

Once the oil is hot, put the onion paste and saute it until it caramelizes and turns a lovely light brown color.

Add the turmeric powder (haldi), stir a few times and then add the ginger-garlic paste, chili paste, garam masala powder, coriander powder, and fennel seed. Keep stirring

Once the stuffing is a very rich golden brown in color and the oil starts to separate from it, remove from heat and put stuffing in a bowl; set aside.

In a pan (you can use the same pan that was used to cook the stuffing) heat some oil. Take the marinated bitter melon and if there is still a lot of moisture, squeeze the karela to let all the remaining moisture out

Once the oil is hot, add the karela or bitter melon. Keep the heat on low setting and let the vegetables fry slowly. Turn the karela every 2 - 3 minutes so that they will be fried all around

The idea is to fry them until the color changes from green to a very dark brown to almost black but not burnt. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels

Allow to cool somewhat so spice mix can be applied into the slit.

Serve with rice or roti.

Recipe  0.0/5 Stars (0 Votes)

More About Bitter Melon (Karela)

Momordica charantia, called bitter melon, bitter gourd or bitter squash in English, Pavakai in Tamil, Karela in Urdu is a tropical and subtropical vine of the family Cucurbitaceae, widely grown in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean for its edi...

Cooking Tips:

how to reduce the bitterness of karela

Karela, also known as bitter melon or ampalaya,  can be enjoyed in many ways without having to be afraid of its bitter taste. To reduce or remove the bitter taste, you can try:

1. Blanching the karela or ampalaya before cooking reduces the bitter taste

sliced karela or bitter melon

2. Salting the vegetable and leave it for an hour then squeeze the juices out helps to make it less bitter

3. Salting the karela and then leaving it out in the sun to dry for a few hours is very effective

4. Removing the seeds also helps

5. Soaking the bitter melon in yoghurt (dahi) for 30 minutes to an hour is also very effective

6. Cooking karela with potatoes and onions is also a good idea

7. Cutting the ampalaya or karela into thin slices will help reduce the bitter taste



Health Benefits of Karela

Karela or bitter melon has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for a very long time. It is known to be very effective in reducing blood sugar levels, increasing the body's metabolism, and the juice is known to help in the treatment of hemorrhoids. Karela is also good for treating skin infections. Aside from its many traditional uses, the vegetable is also rich in vitamins and minerals.

fresh karela or bitter melon


Bitter melon or ampalaya is known to contain vitamin A, B1, B2, C, and the minerals Calcium, Copper, Phosphorous,and Potassium. It is known to have double the potassium in bananas, and double the calcium in spinach.

Looking for more vegetarian recipes?

try these links out

Punjabi Vegetarian Food Recipes- Punjabi Vegetarian Dishes
Comprehensive collection of Punjabi vegetarian recipes. cuisine vegetarian cuisines course punjabi

Indian Vegetarian Recipes
Get an insight into the Indian vegetarian recipes and dishes. Vegetarian cooking of India is easy and simple.

Video for a Variation of Karela Fry

video from a great site called Manjula's Kitchen
Updated: 06/28/2012, b24
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


Rose on 07/17/2012

I actually like bitter vegetables, they add an interesting flavor as long as you don't use too much. Combining it with onions sounds great.

katiem2 on 06/28/2012

Oh my this sounds delicious and mouth watering. :)K

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