Monday, April 16, 2012

Stuffed Karela

Karela or bitter gourd is one of those vegetables that people love to hate. I was one of those people :) This vegetable has a lot of health benefits. It is used in Ayurvedic medicines as a remedy for diabetes. It is also said to purify the blood and is good for the liver. But its bitterness is the main cause for it not being very popular.

Growing up, my mom would make pitlay and curry with karela, but my sister and me would refuse to eat it! After getting married, at a lunch at my husband's aunt's place, I ate stuffed karela and liked it a lot. So, I decided to try out different recipes of stuffed karela.

After much experimenting, I have settled on two different kinds of stuffing - one potato based and the other onion and coconut based in gravy. Today, I made the latter one.

For stuffed karela, use small karelas that are firm. If they are soft, they will be over ripe and the seeds will be reddish - we do not want to use those.

Some people don't mind the bitterness, so they leave the skin on, but I peel it off. Also, sometimes, the seeds and skin are used as a part of the stuffing, but I prefer to discard them.

Preparation & Cooking - 1 hour               Serves:2


Karela - 4-5 small firm
Onion - 1 smal, chopped
Ginger - a small piece
Coconut garlic chutney powder - 2 tablespoons
Sambar Powder - 1 tablespoon
Besan/Bengal Gram Dal Powder - 1 tablespoons
Sesame Seeds - 2 teaspoons
Khus-Khus/Poppy Seeds - 2 teaspoons
Peanuts - 2 tablespoons
Fennel Seeds/Saunf - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric - 2 tablespoons
Salt - to taste
Lemon Juice - 2 tablespoons
Sugar - ½ teaspoon
Oil - 3 tablespoons

  • Peel the karelas and remove the seeds from them. Discard the skin and seeds.
  • Rinse the karelas and apply turmeric and salt liberally to them. Set aside for at least half an hour.
  • In the meantime, in microwave safe bowl, add 2 teaspoons oil and cook the onion and ginger along with salt for 3-4 minutes. Let it cool.
  • Dry roast the peanuts, sesame seeds, fennel seeds and poppy seeds till they turn a brownish tinge and give off a fragrant aroma.
  • In a mixer, powder these then add the sambar powder, besan, turmeric powder, onion ginger mix, lemon juice, coconut garlic chutney powder and sugar and make a smooth paste. The stuffing is ready.
  • After half an hour rinse the karelas, this will help wash away the bitter juices from the karelas.
  • Now stuff the karelas with the stuffing mix prepared.
  • Heat the remaining oil in a wok and shallow fry the karelas till both sides are crisp and brown.

  • Now add the remaining stuffing diluted in water, such that the karelas are fully covered.
  • Cover and cook on a low flame till most of the water evaporates and the gravy thickens, about 20 minutes. By now the karelas will be thoroughly cooked.
Remove from flame and serve with chapathi or rice.

Handy Tip: The coconut garlic chutney is the chutney used in vada pav - I use store bought, you could make it at home.

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