Stuffed Bitter Gourd/ Karela/ Kakarakaya Fry

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Well, this bitter veggie might not be a favorite for many…However, with a bit of tang and sweetness added to the “Bitter Gourd“, the bitterness is reduced and the result is a combination of flavors to relish with a little bit of ‘tang’, ‘bitterness’ and sweetness :). Going by the benefits of this veggie, I make sure it is part of our menu at least once in two weeks. Most of the times, I cook Bitter Gourd fry or a gravy curry with tamarind sauce or tomatoes.

One morning, there was an article in the newspaper on the benefits of Bitter Gourd and it’s recipes, one of them was “Stuffed Karela”. It looked a bit complicated…the interesting thing I felt was the Karela being used as a whole, the skin and the seeds inside as well which is good and adds nutritional value to the dish (yeah..those were my thoughts lol). When, I tried this recipe, it was really good. The next time, I made some variation in the timing of adding ingredients to the dish and it turned out awesome. Trust me, it is worth giving a try and easy to cook. 🙂

Serves: 4, Ingredients:

  • Bitter Gourd – 12 to 14 (small to medium sized)
  • Onions chopped – 1/2 cup
  • Chopped Coriander – 1/2 tbsp
  • Cumin or Jeera – 1 tsp
  • Fennel seeds – 2 tsp (If you do not prefer using seeds, use fennel powder )
  • Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
  • Ginger garlic paste – 1/2 tbsp
  • Salt – 1/2 tbsp (Adjust to taste)
  • Asafoetida or Hing – 1/4th tsp
  • Dry Mango or Amchur powder – 2 tsp (Adjust to taste)
  • Besan – 1+1/2 tbsp
  • Chilli powder – 1 tsp (Adjust to taste)
  • Dhaniya powder – 2 tsp
  • Cooking oil – 1 tbsp
  • Mustard oil – 2 tbsp (preferable)
  • Sugar or Powdered Jaggery – 1 tsp (optional)

Things to prepare or set up before we start cooking:

  1. Wash the veggie well as the skin is also being used. I usually soak any veggies for about ten minutes in salt water and then wash them with normal water before using it.
  2. After washing the Bitter Gourd, pat dry and place them on a tissue paper.
  3. Now, cut the edges of the Bitter Gourd and scrape them with knife or a peeler gently. If using a peeler, make sure not to peel in layers. Scroll down to the end of the page for pictorial reference. Collect the scrapped peel in a plate.
  4. Make a vertical cut on each of the Bitter Gourd keeping the base intact. Gently remove the seeds and add it to the scrapped peel.
  5. Wash the slit Bitter Gourd in water gently and pat dry again. This will remove any excess seeds left inside and clean the outer surface.

For the Stuffing:

  • Take a pan, add 1 tbsp cooking oil. Add Cumin, Fennel seeds and let them splutter.
  • Add onions, once they are slightly cooked or transparent, add turmeric powder and salt.
  • Mix well and add ginger garlic paste. Saute the onion and ginger garlic paste till the onions are translucent and the raw smell of ginger garlic paste fades away.
  • Add hing, saute and now let’s add besan. Mix well and saute till you get a nice aroma of besan.
  • Add amchur powder, chilli powder, dhaniya powder and mix well.
  • Add the peel and seed mixture, chopped coriander and mix well.
  • You will feel the aroma of besan, amchur powder, hing and the other dry spices added. If you prefer adding sugar or powdered jaggery, it can be added now. Mix well and the stuffing is ready.
  • Allow the stuffing to cool down.

Let’s Get Started:

  • Gently stuff each of the Bitter Gourd with the stuffing. Stuffing should be placed well and do not overload. Thread can be used to tie around the bitter gourd to ensure the stuffing does not come out, however I do not prefer doing so.
  • Take the same pan on which stuffing was made, clean the surface of the pan with a tissue or clean cloth.
  • Add mustard oil, let it heat.
  • Place the stuffed Bitter Gourd gently on the pan.
  • Now close the pan with a lid for about three to five minutes. Let it cook on medium flame.
  • Remove the lid and fry them on low to medium flame. Keep turning them using a tong gently, we will fry till the Bitter gourds this way till they turn slightly brown.
  • Check each of the Bitter gourd. Once they are fried well, turn off the flame and we are all set 🙂

My Take on the dish:

  • Mustard oil gives the required flavor to this recipe :), you might miss it if any other cooking oil is being used.
  • For this recipe, I used cooking oil (sunflower oil) for the stuffing and mustard oil to fry the Karela. Mustard oil has a strong flavor and I prefer only for frying. It can be used to make the stuffing as well.
  • If the dish is being served immediately after cooking, it can be made in less oil. If you are planning to serve it later, add more oil and fry it well to retain the crispiness.
  • If there is any extra stuffing left, it can be added to the pan while frying the Karela. It tastes yum.

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