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Stuffed bitter gourd (Bharela Karelia)

Updated: May 7, 2021

The ability of folks to enjoy bitter flavors is based on genetics. I do enjoy it tremendously, and bitter gourd, kale, and dandelion greens are regularly on my table.

Bitter gourds are amongst my favorites, and this recipe is not exception. A relatively simple recipe where the gourds are stuffed with a spicy masala paste and pan sautéed till cooked through. The combination of sour, spicy and bitter were wonderful. I personally liked how this dish turned out and how easy it is to make.

This is a wonderful cookbook from a star chef. The recipes are from all regions of India, and go from super simple to complex. every recipe that I have cooked has been amazing, I highly recommend this cookbook for those of us who want fabulous food on the table.

For more amazing recipes from this cookbook, click here.


For the stuffing:

3 teaspoons fennel seeds, lightly toasted and ground

2 teaspoons coriander seeds, lightly toasted and ground

1/2 -1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon dried mango (amchoor) powder

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt to taste

Oil, as needed

1 lb bitter gourds, young and most tender ones only

Kitchen string or toothpicks

2 tablespoons mustard oil

Pinch asafoetida

1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

Water, as needed

Mix all the ingredients for the filling and add just enough oil to make a thick paste. Mix well and set aside.

You can peel the bitter gourd if desired, but if they are very young and tender, there is no need. Make a slit along the length of the bitter gourds about 3/4 way through the flesh. Pull apart gently and stuff the spice paste into the slit, filling it as much as possible. Tie the gourds up with kitchen string so they do not open up during the cooking process. While tying the gourds, the twine should not be too tight, you will squeeze the spice paste out.

In a shallow flat pan, add the oil and heat on a low flame. Add the fenugreek seeds and asafoetida and sauté. Add the filled bitter gourds after 10 seconds. Add 1/4 cup water, close with a lid and simmer on low heat. After about 4-5 minutes open the lid, add more water if needed, and turn the gourds around. Repeat every 5 minutes or so, for 20 more minutes, making sure the water does not dry out and burn the spice mix. When the gourds a are cooked, they will be soft, cook the mix over a low flame open to evaporate all the water. Sauté till dry and the spices start sticking to the gourds. Remove, you can cut off the strings if desired, and serve immediately drizzling the sauce over the bitter gourds.

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