Learn how to make Stuffed Bitter Gourd | Bharwan Karela Recipe with detailed stepwise method and video
Bitter Gourd/Karela with spicy and tangy onion masala, delicious side dish for your main meals. A popular recipe from North Indian Cuisine, which goes so well with parathas, roti or dal rice combo.
Traditionally, we have been making it by pan frying but now you can make in less oil in your air fryer.
- Learn how to make Stuffed Bitter Gourd | Bharwan Karela Recipe with detailed stepwise method and video
- About the recipe
- Health Benefits of Karela/Bitter Gourd
- Can we Fry the Karela in Air Fryer
- Let's see how I make Bharwan Karela/Stuffed Bitter Gourd
- Ingredients to make Stuffed Karela
- Method to cook Stuffed Bitter Gourd/Bharwan Karela
- Onion Masala for Stuffed Karela
- Fill the onion masala in Karela
- Storing and Shelf Life
About the recipe
Bharwan Karela is stuffed bitter gourd with onions and spices and then deep fried or shallow fried. The sweet taste of caramelized onions along with spices like fennel seeds, coriander powder balances the bitter taste of the gourd.
Bharwan Karela tastes very different from the usual vegetable preparation and is relished as a side dish with any dal like Dal Tadka, Dhuli Masoor Dal(Red Lentils) along with chapatis and rice.
I love karela since I was a kid. Usually kids and many grown ups too don't like it due to it very bitter taste. But me an my younger sister always relished this bitter vegetable. Karela Ki Subzi or Karela Stir fry or Bharwan Karela were one of the two main dishes that mom used to cook often. Another was Karela Chips, Karela roundels marinated in chickpea flour and spices and deep fried were also served as side with Dal Chawal(Dal rice combination). My hubby and kids are not much of Karela fans but I love it so much that many times I make it just for me and have it in small portions with my meals or for breakfast with whole wheat bread or chapati.
Health Benefits of Karela/Bitter Gourd
Karela or Bitter Gourd is a very interesting vegetable.It grows in tropical and subtropical regions(Asia, Caribbean,parts of Africa and South America). It has bitter taste but has numerous health benefits and tastes yumm when cooked properly. A rich source of iron, magnesium, vitamins and potassium with Vit. C. It is an excellent source of dietary fibers. It reduces the amount of sugar in blood, lowers cholesterol.
Bitter Gourd juice cleanses the liver and is a good natural remedy to cure hangovers. Since it has numerous health benefits, if you haven't tried karela yet do try it and include it in your diet.
Can we Fry the Karela in Air Fryer
Karela/Bitter gourd is very good for people with high sugar levels. But frying stuffed karela requires lot of oil, so many people cannot enjoy it.
Cooking it after stuffing, you can now reduce the high oil content that was used in cooking it. Now I use very little oil to fry Karela and it comes out perfect every time.
Checkout the details in recipe card.
Let's see how I make Bharwan Karela/Stuffed Bitter Gourd
Since Karela is a bitter vegetable, need to remove the bitterness and cook it properly to enjoy it fully. If you are having it for the first time, you may not like it.. but gradually you will develop and taste towards it and start liking it.
Ingredients to make Stuffed Karela
Karela tastes good with lots of onions which add sweetness to it. Raw Mango or Dry Mango powder are added to give it a little tangy. I recommend that you use either of the two. During summers when fresh raw mangoes are available we always add onion masala to it. If raw mangoes are not available then we add dry mango powder.
Other must add spices coriander powder, fennel seeds and turmeric, to cook it North Indian way. Green chillies or red chilli powder are added to add the spicy kick!!
In northern India, mustard oil is used for cooking karela and other dry vegetables like this Besanwali Bhindi(Okra with Chickpea flour masala), Aloo Gobhi(Indian Spiced Cauliflower), Gajar aloo Methi Ki subzi(Carrot Potato and fresh fenugreek stir fry) or this super easy Ivy gourd stir-fry and Lauki Ki Subzi(bottle gourd curry).
You can always use any other oil like olive oil, peanut oil in place of mustard oil. I personally do not like the flavour when fried in coconut oil, so I don't use it. But if you can use if you prefer coconut oil in your cooking.
All the ingredients from Bitter gourd to the spices used and mustard oil are available in Indian Grocery stores, outside India.
Method to cook Stuffed Bitter Gourd/Bharwan Karela
See the stepwise video in the recipe card
To cook karela/bitter gourd, first step and important step is to remove bitterness from it. For that wash it nicely, then peel of the skin using a peeler or knife. If the peel has no marks and bitter gourd is bright green color you can use it in stuffing.
If you want to add peel, then mix it with salt, keep for 10-15 minutes and then squeeze out extra water.
Make slit lengthwise along the middle of gourd. Take out seeds carefully. I discard the seeds. Many people add seeds with masala if seeds are soft. Always discard the red seeds.
Onion Masala for Stuffed Karela
Finely chop onions. You can use food processor for it.
Add all the spices with roasted chana and grind to fine powder.
In a pan, add oil, add cumin seeds. Add hing/asafetida(optional). If you do not follow a gluten-free diet skip it or add gluten-free asafetida.
Fry onion with finely chopped green chillies(optional),till it starts turning light pink/translucent.
Now add the peel and seeds(if using in the recipe), add the roasted chana gram powder along with spices.
Add grated/finely chopped raw mango if using, else add amchur(while grinding the spices).
Next, add salt and little jaggery powder/sugar to balance the bitterness.
Switch off the flame and transfer it to bowl to cool.
Fill the onion masala in Karela
Now squeeze the water from Karela, wash in water if you want, pat dry on a clean kitchen paper towel.
Add onion masala(about 1 tbsp or as required) carefully in karela, take care not to tear it.
We tie a clean thread around it to seal it, so that the filling doesn't come out while frying karela. Repeat for all the pieces.
In heavy bottomed pan, add oil, heat it and drop karela pieces carefully. You can shallow fry in less oil like I did or deep fry. Just be careful not to stir it frequently as masala may come out from the slits.
Fry till light brown and the outer side is cooked properly.
Take out on the kitchen paper towel, as it will absorb extra oil.
If karela pieces are big you can but into halves and serve with chapatis or paratha!!
Storing and Shelf Life
Bharwan Karela stays good for 4-5 day when refrigerated properly. Store in an airtight container.
You can also freeze it for a couple of days about 1-2 weeks.
To reheat in an open pan or in air fryer at 160 C or 350F, for 5 mins.
- Air Fryer
- 3-4 Karela/Bitter Gourd pieces
- 1-2 Medium sized Onions
- 1-2 Green Chilies(optional) depending on heat tolerance
- 2 tbsp Raw Mango(Grated) when available
- 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
- 2 tbsp Coriander Seeds
- 1 tsp Fennel Seeds
- Red Chili Powder as per preference
- 1/2 Turmeric Powder
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp Amchoor/Dry Mango Powder(optional) when not using Raw Mango
- 1-2 tbsp Any plant oil (like Mustard Oil, Olive Oil) to prepare the filling
- Oil for deep frying or shallow frying
- ¼ tsp Asafeotida/Hing optional
- 2 tbsp Roasted Chana without skin
- Extra Salt to rub on the vegetable
- Wash Karela nicely and scrape off the skin using a knife/peeler.3-4 Karela/Bitter Gourd pieces
- Make slits in between lengthwise and take out the seeds from inside.
- Rub salt in karela pieces and leave for about 30 mins-1hrExtra Salt to rub on the vegetable
- Take the scraped peel, add 1/4 tsp salt and let leave it for 30 mins.Extra Salt to rub on the vegetable
- Dry roast coriander seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds.1 tsp Cumin Seeds, 2 tbsp Coriander Seeds, 1 tsp Fennel Seeds
- Grind coriander, cumin and fennel seeds to coarse powder. Alternatively, you can also use coriander powder and fennel powder. Mix it with the roasted chana powder.
- Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder and amchur (if not using raw mango).Red Chili Powder, 1/2 Turmeric Powder, 1 tsp Amchoor/Dry Mango Powder(optional)
- Grind to fine powder.2 tbsp Roasted Chana without skin
- After an hour, squeeze off water from karela pieces. Wash in water if you want. Pat dry on kitchen towel.
- Also squeeze water from the peel. Discard the water.
Make Filling Onion Masala
- Finely chop onions and green chillies. You can use food processor.1-2 Medium sized Onions, 1-2 Green Chilies(optional)
- In a pan/kadhai heat oil, add asafeotida(if using), cumin seeds.1 tsp Cumin Seeds, 1-2 tbsp Any plant oil (like Mustard Oil, Olive Oil), ¼ tsp Asafeotida/Hing
- Once seeds crackle, add onions and fry till light brown in color.
- Add roasted chana powder along with all the spice powders. Also, salt and add raw mango at this step if using it in the recipe.2 tbsp Raw Mango(Grated), Salt to taste
- Fry on low flame for another 1-2 minutes.
- Take off the flame and transfer to a bowl.
Make Masala Filling
- Fill in the onion masala and seal the slit with toothpick or thread(preferably) checkout the attached video..
- Take a heavy bottomed pan or kadhai, heat oil and drop carefully karela pieces.Oil for deep frying or shallow frying
- Fry on low heat till cooked from all sides and light brown.
- Once done, take out on a kitchen towel.
- Serve with Dal Rice or chapatis/paranthas. Cut in half if pieces are too big.Also remove thread before serving.
Air Frying Karela
- After stuffing the karela pieces, brush it lightly with oil.
- Preheat air fryer at 180°C or 350°F.
- Arrange the pieces in the air fryer basket and air fry for 10-12 mins.
Do try these delicious stuffed karela my way. Though this vegetable has an acquired taste, you are going to love it gradually.
Do not forget to give your feedback and if you have any queries or questions on the recipes please do ask in the comments section.
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Mireille Roc (@ChefMireille)
Can't say I'm a fan of bitter gourd but I love the filling and my Mom LOVES this veggie so I will try your recipe for her!
OMG! This is just amazing! We love karela and grow tons of it. This is something I have always wanted to make but never got around it. I will be making this for sure! looks so delicious.
Renu Agrawal Dongre
Stuffed Karela looks tempting. I never liked karela and I remember parents wanting and asking me to eat it. I think adding onion will reduce the bitterness too, I am willing to give this a try after seeing your delicious pics.
I've just shown hubby your clicks of stuffed bitter gourd and he is now pestering me to make them soon. I usually just make stir fried karela sabji for him. Should try out this recipe soon.
Do try it, it's different from the stir fry but tastes delicious!!
Bharwan karele is one of my favorite dishes, can't have enough of it. You have made it exactly the way my mother makes it. Loved the recipe.
Thanks Vandana!! In north India people usually make it this way...:)
I have never tried gourd So found this really interesting . I’ll give it a go!
Thanks Melanie !! do try it !
Love these beautifully roasted bitter gourds, and the onion fillings sound so flavorful.
Loved this recipe! Previously I too wasn't fond of karela but now I love this stuffed variety, of course after the major bitterness is done away with! I do it 2 ways, one with besan and the other with coconut stuffing!