Seasonal eating is a rage all over the world these days. However, in India, it never went out of fashion and we grew up eating seasonal fruits and vegetables, freshly prepared using spices and herbs. Karela is one of the vegetables cooked regularly in Punjabi homes during the summer months. It’s one of my absolutely favourite dishes to eat with mangoes and lassi (cooling drink made from yogurt) during the hot summer month.
Karela, called bitter gourd, is also well known for numerous health benefits and its juice, though extremely bitter, is a well-known remedy in Ayurvedic medicine. While it’s great to drink the bitter juice for health reason, a bitter vegetable dish probably wouldn’t be a great hit with anyone apart from the health nuts! One of the commonly used methods from removing bitterness is to make the vegetables sweat by salting them and then squeezing the excess water from the vegetables.
In this recipe, I have used saunf (fennel seeds) which adds a lovely touch of sweetness to the dish. I hope that you won’t be scared off by the bitterness and will give it a try. I promise that it’s delicious!
- 500 gram karela
- 2 large onions peeled and roughly sliced or chopped
- 2 small tomatoes quartered
- 1 green chilli chopped
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds saunf
- 1 tbsp onion seeds kalonji
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 3 tbsp mustard oil
- Salt to taste
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tbsp mango powder amchoor
Prep the karelas
- Peel the karela to remove the skin fully. Makes sure to remove all the dark green bits
- Slice the karela to get round slices about 1/2 cm – 1 cm thick. Keep the seeds (the crunchy seeds are my favourite part!)
- Mix in about 1/4 cup of salt so that the karela slices are coated in salt. This will make the karela sweat and remove the bitterness. Set them aside for 2 hours
- After two hours, squeeze all karelas to remove the bitter juice. Wash the karelas in large amount of water to remove the salt and any remaining juice
- Dry the karelas to remove any liquid
- Add mustard oil to a thick bottom pan and set on high heat
- Once the smoke starts to come out of the oil (make sure not to burn the oil), add in fennel seeds (saunf) and onion seeds (kalonji)
- Saute for 2-3 seconds and add the karela
- Saute on high heat for 2-3 minutes
- Cover the pan and cook for anohter 7-8 minutes. Make sure to remove the cover every minute or so to stir the karela to make sure they don't burn.
- Add onion and saute uncovered for another 7-8 minutes
- Push the onions and karelas to one side and add turmeric powder in the collected oil. If all the oil has been soaked up, add 1/2 tsp of mustard oil in the side of the pan and add turmeric powder. Cook the turmeric powder for few seconds and then mix it in with the veggies. Adding turmeric powder this way ensures that the turmeric powder is fully cooked
- Mix in the salt and green chillies
- Add tomatoes and saute for 3-4 minutes
- Mix in the coriander powder and mango powder and cook for a minute and then serve hot with fresh chapatis, sliced mangoes and fresh plain lassi!