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I wouldn’t say I was a picky eater growing up. Hard to please maybe, but certainly not picky! I would eat anything provided, (a) it looked good, (b) it had an ingredient I liked, and (c) it was not gooey!

It must’ve been hard for Mom to try and get us to eat all the veggies she cooked. Out of the many I refused to eat as a child, is something called the “bitter-gourd” or more so, karela in Hindi. I don’t blame myself for this since I truly believe that it is an acquired taste for aduts. I have yet to find a child who relishes this hostile vegetable with delight. But over the years, I began to start enjoying it, until one day, I declared it to be one of my favourites!

Karela Masala

The bitter-gourd is believed to have many medicinal qualities, one of the main being a good blood purifier. This was icing on the cake! I could now eat it as much as I wanted, and it would only do good for me.

I don’t know of many ways of cooking the bitter gourd. But of the very few that I do, this recipe tops my list. The tangy and spicy combination is totally in sync with the hint of bitterness that comes from the vegetable’s natural juices. So try not to get too imtimidated by its intensity and give a shot at this recipe. I guarantee you will be never see the bitter gourd in the same light ever again!

Karela Masala (Tangy Bitter-gourd)


  • 2-3 medium-sized bittergourds, seeded and cut into thin slices
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2-3 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp amchur (dried mango powder, available at the local Indian grocery store)
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • Method:

    1. Saute cumin seeds in hot oil in a deep pan. once it begins to sizzle, add in onions and green chillies. Fry till onions tenderize and brown.
    2. Add red chili powder, turmeric, coriander powder and salt and saute to blend in spices.
    3. Add in chopped tomatoes, ginger-garlic paste and amchoor, and fry till tomato juices dry up.
    4. Add salt and sliced bitter-gourd and cover cook for 7-8 minutes till done. Sprinkle garam masala on top.

    Enjoy with warm rotis and side of piping hot Dal.

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