The beginning of hardship is like the first taste of bitter food -it seems for a moment unbearable; yet, if there is nothing else to satisfy our hunger, we take another bite and find it possible to go on. -George Eliot
Bitter melon, otherwise known as bitter gourd or bitter squash is a vegetable that is amazingly good for you. However, it comes with a small caveat. It’s also an acquired taste. As you can imagine, there is good reason for the word ‘bitter’ in its name. But there are also plenty of good reasons to make this vegetable a part of your diet. It’s a source of many beneficial antioxidants and vitamins and helps combat a number of illnesses.
Having been raised in a Gujurati household, I’m no stranger to this vegetable which is known as karela in my native Gujarati as well as in Hindi. I’m grateful for having had a substantial exposure to it while growing up as now I can boast that it’s one my favourite vegetables. And I’m hoping the same will be the case for my children too.The easiest way to enjoy the benefits of this super food is by juicing. Requiring a bit more effort, my favourite is this simple bitter melon and onion curry.
Bitter Melon and Onion Curry (Karela nu Shak)
- 150 g sliced bitter melon (this is about one medium)
- 130 g diced onion (this is about one small)
- 1/4 cup of olive oil (This may seem like a lot but bitter melon curry requires a generous amount of oil for cooking)
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- ½ tsp fenugreek (methi) seeds
- ½ tsp cumin powder
- ½ tsp coriander powder
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp turmeric (haldi)
- ¼ tsp garam masala
- pinch of red pepper (or to taste)
- Heat oil and add mustard seeds and methi seeds. When they begin to crackle, add the bitter melon and the onions. Stir to coat in oil and cover. Cook for a total of 20 minutes on low-medium heat, stirring in between.
- Enjoy as a side dish or as a light lunch with roti.
Note 1: You can use more onion and less bitter melon should you wish to offset the taste of the bitter melon.
Note 2: You can also reduce the bitterness by adding a bit of salt to the sliced uncooked bitter melon and allowing it to sit for 15-20 minutes. Then squeeze the slices using a cheese cloth to remove some of the juices.
Note 3: I always use young, tender bitter melon whose seeds do not need to be removed. If the one you have has larger and tougher seeds, then cut the bitter melon lengthwise, scoop the seeds out and discard them, before slicing the vegetable.
8 thoughts on “bitter melon curry”
never tried this one! I don’t even think I have seen it at the supermarket 😮 I will keep an eye open for sure. Beautiful photography as always!
Thank you! You can try Asian or Indian grocery stores… they will be sure to have it. As I said above, this is such a healthy vegetable, it just takes a bit of getting use to.
this sounds delicious! I have never tasted bitter melon but I’m curious now 🙂
Do give it a try because it is such a healthy vegetable. You can try juicing it at first and start by adding only small amounts to other juices or smoothies…. let your taste buds get use to the bitterness.
I will if I can find it 🙂 that’s for sure. and thank you for the tips. a big hug to you
You are very welcomed! Big hug for you too!
Very nice one Annika!!