Friday, March 11, 2016

Stuffed Karela

During our morning walk, some of my friends were talking how good the stuffed karela they made had turned out. I was very intrigued by it and asked my friend for the recipe. She mentioned just using simple masala powders but addition of saunf ( sombu, fennel ) and amchoor was very exciting to me. I have always prepared karela in a very simple way with onions, tomatoes and they still had some bitter taste to it. I searched on line for some recipes and found this one Here. I pretty much followed the recipe except for some minor tweaks.

It takes a little time as they are multiple steps ( marinate the karela, make the stuffing, stuff the karela and then cook it), but it is well worth it.  Scraping the karela was a new technique to me and the scarppings are used to stuff the karela. how cool is that? I loved the stuffing that I helped myself for few generous spoons.

My husband and I really liked the karela cooked this way. My kids were not brave enough to try this yet!

Get Ready ( Serves 2- 4)

  • 4 small Karela/ Pagakkai/ bitter melon
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste ( optional)

For the stuffing

  • 3-4 Tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp hing/ asafetida/ perungayam
  • 2 Tbsp gram flour/ kadalai mavu
  • 1 Tbsp fennel seeds powder/ saunf powder/ sombu powder
  • 1 Tbsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  •  salt to taste
  • 2 Tbsp Amchoor powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder ( as per taste)
white thread to wrap the karela.


  • Wash the karelas and scrape the outside ridge like part. Collect the scrapings and set aside.

  • Make a lengthwise slit on the karelas, without cutting it completely in half. remove the flesh and seeds from inside and discard them.

  • In a wide bowl add the karela, sprinkle them with generous amount of salt outside and inside the slit.
  • Mix the lemon juice and tamarind paste well. pour 3/4 th of it all over the karela outside and inside.
  • Add the scrapings to a bowl and marinate the same way with salt, lemon juice and tamarind paste.
  • Set aside to marinate for an hour.
  • After an hour, squeeze all the water out of the whole karela and the scrapings. Wash the karelas in water set aside. keep the marinated karela scrapings aside too.

Prepare the stuffing.

  • In a pan, add 2 tsp of oil. Once hot add the cumin seeds and let it crackle. add the asafetida.
  • Add the marinated scraping of karela and fry for a minute.

  •  Add the gram flour/ kadalai mavu to this and fry for a minute till the raw smell goes away.

  •  Now add the fennel seed powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chilli and amchoor powder and mix everything well.

  •  fry for a minute, turn the heat off and set aside.The stuffing for karelas is ready.

Cook the karelas

  • Once the stuffing in cool to handle, fill them inside the karelas that have been marinated and slit. 

  • Wrap the stuffed karelas with a thread. Just a simple wrap, no need to tie a knot etc. This helps to hold the stuffing inside while cooking.

  • In a wide pan, add 1 Tbsp of oil, place the stuffed karelas, sprinkle some salt.

  •  Cover the pan and cook for 2 mins on medium heat

  • Flip the karelas so that all the sides are getting cooked, by keeping them covered for a few mins and opening them. if the bottom is getting dry add oil little by little.
  • You will have some more stuffing left. Sprinkle it on top of the karelas, add a little water, cover and cook on low heat till all sides of karelas are done.
  • Once they are done, open the lid and cook till the karelas are soft and the filling is roasted.

Serve with rice, rasam, samabar or eat it like that. The addition of saunf and amchoor takes away the bitterness so well and it tastes wonderful. Remember to take the thread away before eating.

Other variations:

You can add some onions, garlic. ginger to the stuffing as well.


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