The Karela

 So, it is the day of "K". I am confused about which one to choose from - Kale, Kiwi, or अपनु  करेला .

Bitter Gourd
Pic - Wikipedia
And it is  Karela, the bitter gourd to the world. करेला और नीम चढ़ा? This was one of the Hindi expressions, I always loved. In the earlier years or rather decades of my life, I had not eaten this. It was after my marriage, that I started eating. I was wondering the other day, why I had started eating this bitter gourd after marriage? I guess it was not as bitter as life after marriage :) jokes apart, my sister-in-law used to make really tasty karela. The next best karela is made by my sister's cook. You can check my easy to make karela recipe here

Bitter gourd is rich in Vitamin C. When i came to know about it, I expected a sour lemon like taste. But then it must be created by Brahma's ( God of creation in Hindu Philosophy) assistant, who did not do the correct combination of nutrients and taste. 

Let us have a look at  other nutrients karela has -

One cup (94 grams) of raw bitter melon provides :

  • Calories: 20
  • Carbs: 4 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Vitamin C: 93% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
  • Vitamin A: 44% of the RDI
  • Folate: 17% of the RDI
  • Potassium: 8% of the RDI
  • Zinc: 5% of the RDI
  • Iron: 4% of the RDI
(Information from

With so little calories, it is good for weight watchers too. 
Our Indian Karela
Pic Wikipedia
In India, it is very well known for it's role in controlling diabetes. You may find a number of juice carts in the morning near walking areas. I have seen people queing up for karela juice. 
It is used throughout India. In North India, it is eaten as stuffed dry veggie or tawa spicy dry vegetable. I also make a kachari vegetable with lots of onion. To decrease the bitterness, they are kept marinated in salt. They may be boiled and washed to decrease the bitterness. A little bit of sugar is also sprinkled to balance the bitterness. 
In south Indian cuisine, a number of dishes are churned out using bittergourd such as thoran / thuvaran , pavaikka mezhukkupuratti , theeyal and pachadi that is considered a medicinal food for diabetics. Other popular recipes include preparations with curry, deep-frying with peanuts or other ground nuts, and  even a soup with fried onions and other spices. 
 Salt is added to finely chopped bitter gourd, and then it is squeezed, removing its bitter juice to some extent. After frying this with different spices, the less bitter and crispy preparation is served with grated coconut. 
It is valued for its health benefits and used widely in Goan cuisine. In Bengal it is  simply  boiled and mashed with salt, mustard oil, sliced thinly and deep fried, added to lentils to make "tetor" dal (bitter lentils).  It is a key ingredient of the Shukto, a Bengali vegetable medley that is a mixture of several vegetables like raw banana, drumstick stems, bori and sweet potato.

Karela is bitter in taste but is accepted all around the world. What we can learn from this vegetable is that if internal quality is good, it is accepted by every one. 

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  1. I am so happy to see this post on karela ... It's my favourite vegetable. I won't get bored even if I have it every day! :-)
    (Visiting your via Blogchatter. Please do check out K = Kanikonna - a visual Vishu treat.)

    1. Here is a karela fan, very difficult to find one though. It indeed is very tasty veggie.


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