Karela, the bitter but beneficial vegetable that is loved by many and avoided by an equal number, is called Bitter Gourd in English. It also goes by other names such as Bitter melon, Bitter squash and Balsam pear. These are all slightly different from each other in shape and appearance, but the bitterness is common for all!
Most of the people avoid eating karela because of its characteristic bitter taste, but if karela is pre-treated with salt and turmeric bitterness decreases and tasty sabzis can be prepared with the perfect combination of spices. Some people add this bitter karela to their menu because of its extraordinary medicinal value.
Before penning down the recipe let me share a few health benefits of karela:
- Karela is a good source of dietary fibre, which improves digestion and provides relief from dyspepsia and constipation.
- The anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties in karela help maintain good health.
- Karela is a good source of vitamin C, which boosts the immune system of our body.
- Phytonutrients present in karela lowers blood sugar levels in diabetic patients. The best way to use karela by diabetic patients is in the form of juice. Though the juice is very bitter, it has magical health benefits, as it also reduces blood pressure and boosts energy.
- The antioxidants in karela can prevent cancer.
- Karela is rich in vitamin ‘K’ which increase bone density.
- Its juice is low in calories which helps in weight loss.
- It is good source of vitamin ‘A’ and beta carotene which is good for eye health.
- It reduces bad cholesterol and prevent heart disease by keeping our cardiovascular system healthy.
- Karela has antibiotic, anti-allergic, anti-fungal, anti-viral and anti-parasitic properties.
I am sharing here, the recipe of the spicy scrumptious and nutritious Bharwan karela (stuffed karela), which is a north Indian dish and is served as an accompaniment with lunch or dinner.
To make tangy and spicy stuffing I have used karela peel, besan and grated raw mango which gives it a unique taste and flavour to the dish.
The recipe is very simple and easy.
Ingredients (3 to 4 servings):
- Karela (bitter gourd) – 5 to 6
- Grated raw mango – 3 tbsp
- Besan (gram flour) – 4 tbsp
- Saunf (fennel seeds) – ¾ tsp
- Jeera (cumin seeds ) – ½ tsp
- Hing (asafoetida) – ⅛ tsp
- Dhania (coriander) powder – 1 tbsp
- Haldi (turmeric) powder – ¼ + ½ tsp
- Lal mirch (red chilli) powder – 1 tsp
- Refined or mustard oil – 1 + 2 tbsp
- Salt according to taste
- White thread to wrap the stuffed karela.
- Rinse karela, wipe with a clean kitchen towel and let it dry completely.
- Scrape karelas and reserve the peel for stuffing.
- Slit the karelas vertically with a sharp knife and discard the seeds if they are hard.
- Take ½ tsp haldi and 1 tbsp salt, mix them well.
- Rub haldi and salt mixture evenly in the slit karelas and keep aside for ½ hour.
- Sprinkle a little haldi and salt on the karela peel, mix well and keep aside for ½ hour. (this process is done to reduce bitterness of the karela)
- After half hour take karela peel in a strainer and rinse it with water.
- Squeeze water from the peel.
- Likewise, rinse the karela and squeeze out the water. Pat dry with a clean kitchen towel.
Procedure to make stuffing:
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in kadhai, add saunf and jeera to it. When they crackle, add the hing.
- Now add besan and roast on a low flame until its colour changes to golden and a nice aroma wafts from it.
- Now, add grated raw mango, karela peel, dhania powder, lal mirch powder, haldi and salt, mix well and switch off the flame.
- The stuffing should be moist in texture, if it looks dry sprinkle a few drops of water or dizzle a few drops of oil.
- Divide the stuffing into equal portions and stuff into the slit karelas.
- Tie the karelas loosely with the white thread. This will prevent the spilling of stuffing from karela while cooking..
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in heavy bottom kadhai.
- Put the stuffed karelas in the kadhai and toss them.
- Cover the kadhai with a lid and cook on low flame.
- Keep flipping the karelas in intervals and cook till the vegetable is done.
- Switch off the flame and dish out the Bharwan Karela in a serving dish.
- Serve Bharwan karela as a side dish with phulka and paratha.