Karele ki Subzi

Karele ki Subzi is Karela(Bitter Gourd) and onions stir fried with green chillies in Indian spices and mustard oil. North Indian Style Karela Masala recipe.

Karela Subzi

I love Karela and it was a regular at my parents place. Stuffed Karelas or sliced and cut karelas with onions and  spices like dry mango powder, fennel seeds, coriander powder  were a regular in my parents home. Many people do not like these due to the bitter taste(in fact very bitter taste), but it has numerous health benefits. I loved Karele ki subzi even when I was a kid and relished it with hot ghee chapatis and dahi/yogurt.  At my place, Rajeev and kids are not very fond of karela, but I still cook it for myself only.

For those who do not about Karela is known as Bitter Gourd is a summer vegetable mostly used in Indian Cuisine. It is cooked in different ways in different parts of India. Stir fried karela with onions (Karela Stir  fry)or stuffed with onion masala in spices like fennel seeds, coriander powder in turmeric(Bharwan Karele). Karela has a peculiar bitter taste and is a very beneficial vegetable as per Ayurveda. Bitter taste is different from the pungent that is a characteristic of mustard and chillies. If we go by Ayurvedic way of eating, bitter foods must be included in our everyday meals. These help in detoxifying and cleansing  body. It lowers blood sugar level, and it’s juice is recommended in diabetes.

Karela is a bitter veggie how to reduce the bitterness..

Karela is a very bitter vegetable, though the bitterness is in a way good as per ayurveda but it makes it unpalatable for many. To remove the bitterness, after peeling the skin , rub some salt and leave it for and hour or so. After that when ready to make, squeeze the water as the veggie will dehydrate due to salt, and then wash it once again and use as required.

Also, if the bitterness doesn’t go away even after rubbing salt and squeezing water, add a pinch of sugar /jaggery or honey. My mom used add some jaggery(about a tsp) in  very bitter karela.

Pls Note.. Karela should be avoided during pregnancy. Many times I had craving for Karela when I was expecting my kids, but couldn’t have as I was advised not to have it during that time.

What goes with Karela Masala…

Karela stir fried or stuffed, goes well with chapatis  and curry or with Dal Chawal or serve it with Khichdi I also love having it just with chapatis and raita or just plain Chass.

At my parents home many time mom made Raw Mango(Aami ki Khatti Meethi Sabzi) and Bottle Gourd(Lauki) subzi along with karela. It also goes well Aloo Tamatar or Aloo Matar.

What I need to make Karele ki Subzi..

Karela/Bottle Gourd, thinly sliced onions, green chillies(optional) and dry spices like dry mango powder, coriander powder, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt. These spices balance the bitter flavor of the karela. That’s the beauty of Indian Cuisine  where on one side the spices enhance the taste, add on to the health benefits and delicately balance the taste of the overpowering ingredient.

Mustard Oil is used by North Indian to cook their staple vegetables. You can use any good vegetable oil for making karela if you are not using mustard oil. But in my opinion , mustard oil enhances the taste of North Indian style vegetables , maybe we are so used to that taste.

Mustard oil has a pungent taste, and it not preferred oil in many countries due to a Euric Acid. This compound known to be harmful for human consumption. But our families have been using it for generations and we have not noticed any side effects.

If using mustard oil for cooking heat till it’s smoking point, the cool a bit and use as required.

Let’s make Karele Ki Subzi with Onions and Green Chillies.

Karele ki Subzi

Onions and Karela(Bitter Gourd) stir fried with green chillies in Indian spices and mustard oil. North Indian Style Karela Masala recipe.

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Resting time for Karela rubbed with salt 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 25 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian, North Indian
Servings 4


  • 4 Karela/Bitter Gourd
  • 1 Onion(large)
  • 4-5 Green Chillies

Spice Powders

  • 2 tsp Dhaniya/Coriander Powder
  • 1 tsp Saunf/Fennel Seeds
  • !/2 tsp Haldi/Turmeric Powder
  • 1 tsp Amchur/Dry Mango Powder
  • 1 tsp Red Chilli Powder(optional) can skip if using green chillies
  • 2 tbsp Mustard Powder
  • 2 tbsp Mustard Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Asafoetida
  • Salt as per taste
  • 1 tsp Salt(to sprinkle in karela)
  • 1/2 tsp Honey/Jaggery powder optional


  • Wash nicely and coarsely peel Karela.
  • Cut into medium thin roundels.
  • Sprinkle salt on the cut pieces and keep in sun(preferred) for at least 1 hr. After that squeeze water from it. you can rinse karela pieces in water if you want.
  • Thinly slice the onions. If using green chillies, either chop finely or slit in half.
  • In a pan or kadhai, add mustard oil. Heat oil till it's smoking point. Switch off the gas for a minute, cool the oil a for a minute and then add cumin seeds and asafoetida.
  • When the seeds crackle, add sliced onions and saute for a minute.
  • Add all the dry spice powders except dry mango, add sliced karela pieces and with salt and mix everything. Add 1-2 tbsp of water if required, cover the pan and cook the vegetable for 5-6 minutes.
  • Keep stirring the vegetable in between while it cooks so that it doesn't stick to pan and burns.
  • Check the vegetable once done, add dry mango powder and jaggery powder or honey(optional).
  • Serve with chapatis/dal chawal/kadhi chawal or khichdi.


Keyword diabetic friendly recipe, Easy Lunch/Dinner Ideas, Karela, Low Cholesterol recipes, Weightloss Recipe

Do try this karela subzi my way and let me know how you liked it.

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Author: Swati

Some who believes 'EAT WELL, READ DAILY, TRAVEL OFTEN AND LAUGH KHUL KE'!!! Hi!! Swati here!!! Chef, Chocolatier, food admirer, reader, love to travel, listen to music, Bollywood and shoot nature and food pics!! Welcome to my Foodtrails and join me in my food adventure!!

9 thoughts

  1. Your karele curry looks delicious and really crispy. I too cook it but with lots of jaggery.

    1. TBH, was never a fan of karela. I remember this being eaten forcefully 😄. Your karela looks perfectly done and very crisp. I can enjoy them with some Dal and rice.

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