Bharwan Karela

There are so many ways you can make Bharwan Karela or stuffed bitter gourd as you may call it in simple terms. This particular recipe is kind of a marriage of a few recipes where I tried to pick my favorite parts from different recipe for bharwan karela, some from my mom, some from my mother in law and some parts inspired by different version of the dish I ate over a period of time. So you can say, this is probably the best recipe for bharwan karela because it has the best from them all.


6-8 – Karela (bitter gourd)- small to medium size
1 1/2 tablespoon + 1 tablespoon- Cooking oil
1 1/2 teaspoon- fennel seeds
1 1/2 teaspoon- nigella
1 cup- onion (thinly sliced)
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon – red chili powder
2 tablespoon- coriander powder
3 tablespoon- Besan (chickpea flour)
1 tablespoon – Amchur (raw mango powder)


Heat oil in a thick bottom pan. Add fennel seeds and nigella. As they sputter add onion followed by salt. Sauté onion until they are soft and turn golden in color, 8-10 minutes.

Add red chili, coriander, besan and amchur. Sauté on medium heat until you can smell the roasted besan and the mixture in deep golden in color, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a dish and set aside to let it cool down a little which will make it easier to handle.

In the meantime, prep the karela. Trim the ends of the karela and scrape the pointy ridges just to smooth it out a little. Then make a long incision on the karela lengthwise and scoop the seeds from the inside to create hollow space in the inside. This is where we will stuff the prepared masala.

Take some warm salted water and dip the karela for 8-10 minutes. This process reduces the bitterness of the karela, just a little bit.

Now stuff the karela with prepared onion masala. Press the masala gently inside the karela to make sure its tightly packed so that nothing falls off while we are cooking them.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wok or pan. Gently drop stuffed karela into the wok. Carefully toss them in the oil to coat all the karela with oil. Over medium heat cook the karela, covered, occasionally turning the karela to make sure all the sides are browned and cooked properly. Cooking time for karela should take 15- 20 minutes.

Serve hot as a side.

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