Momordica charantia, known as bitter melon, bitter gourd, bitter squash, or balsam-pear is a tropical and subtropical vine of the family Cucurbitaceae, widely grown in Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean for its edible fruit. Its many varieties differ substantially in the shape and bitterness of the fruit. It's eaten in China, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam etc in Indian continent.
Lately, many health benefits of Karela has been propagated. It's medicinal usage has been recorded in Indian system of Ayurveda and traditional system of Africa. Recently, research has proved it's role in curing diabetes. Bitter melon is contraindicated in pregnant women because it can induce bleeding, contractions, and miscarriage
Commonly known as Karela" in India, I have developed my love for this vegetable with time. As a child till my early twenties, I have never tasted this bitter vegetable. I had tasted it for the first time after my wedding. शादी अच्छे अच्छों को बदल डालती है भाई. I do not remember how long I took to develop it's taste but now I relish it .
I make it in two ways : Stuffed and kachri. The way, I have seen my mom and others cooking the stuffed karelas, I found it to be very cumbersome process. Usually, I have seen that the stuffing is shallow fried , then filled in cut karela , tied with thread and shallow fried at low heat.
Since I have developed taste for Karela while eating at friends' and relatives , I have to find an easier way to cook it myself. I am always a game to make things easier for myself.
After many hits and trial, I have devised an easy solution to cook stuffed karela which I am sharing now.
- Take approximately 250 gm of bitter gaurd. Wash and peel. Keep the peels. Slit each karela in a such a way that it remains in one piece and has an opening to stuff filling.
- Add a tea spoon of salt and mix well with karela and the peel. Leave it for 2 hours.
- Wash karelas and peel in a sieve to remove salt.
- Microwave them for 1.30 minutes.
- Finally chop enough onions and keep them in a big bowl. Add peel, salt to taste, saunf-methi powder, garam masala, amchoor, garlic, ginger or anything you want to make filling interesting and tasty. I have even added meat masala, stirfry masala, sabzi masala etc. and evey time, they come out so well but with a different taste.
- No set rules in cooking. :) Cooking is all about experimentation.
- Once filling is ready. Fill in each karela and secure it with toothpicks.
- Shallow fry till they turn into golden brown colour. Add all the filling, if left.
Karelas will be ready in 10-15 minutes when cooked on low heat.
- Serve hot with chapatees. Curd with karela tastes good as it balances the bitterness of karela. So a riata is an interesting add on with karela for a meal.