bharwan karela recipe, how to make bharwan karela or stuffed karela

by dassana amit updated October 18, 2013

bharwan karela

bharwan karela or stuffed bitter gourd recipe. karela or bitter gourd is one veggie which is not liked by many. personally i know so many people who just hate this veggie. the reason is obvious… it has a strong bitter taste that many people don’t like.

bitter gourd was often made in our house and even while growing up i would just love the bitter taste. we would make karela stir fries, stuff them or make chips. i have even had the bitter gourd juice many times. i can have cooked bitter gourd, but the juice would be too much for me :-)

this recipe of bharwan karela is again from my mil’s fab punjabi recipes collection. very easy to prepare and just some onions and our regular indian masalas/spice powders are required. mil does not add fennel/saunf powder. but i strongly recommend adding fennel powder as its sweet flavors just enhances this dish.

the onions are browned and as a result impart their sweetness in this dish. this takes away from the slight bitterness that is there in the dish if any. if you don’t have time to stuff the karela then try another variation of this recipe - punjabi karela sabzi.

punjabi bharwan karela

i have created a collage for the step by step bharwan karela recipe where two steps are shown. when i had made the dish a few months back, i had clicked vertical pics. by the time the dish was over, it already became night and the final pics were not good. recently i made these again and clicked the final pics in good amount of day light.

you can keep the peel on if you want. in the step by step, i have removed the peels. however, in the final pics, i did not remove the peels.

lets start step by step bharwan karela recipe:

1: rinse the karela. wipe them dry. you can peel them if you want. i generally do not rub salt in the bitter gourds. if making for kids, then apply or rub salt over the karela and keep aside for some minutes. later throw away the juices and rinse the gourds well. wipe them dry. make a cut on each karela vertically keeping the base intact. remove the pith and seeds with your hands. small karelas are best to make bharwan karela. take all the dry spice powders in a plate or bowl and mix them well with salt.

bharwan karela ingredients

2: stuff the karela with the dry spice powder mix with a spoon or with your hands. stuff well and tighten the stuffed karela with a clean thread. wrung the thread all around and tie a knot so that the thread does become loose while frying the karela. heat oil and fry the karela on a low flame till they get browned and cooked well. keep aside. i always fry on a low flame so that if in any case, the masala falls into the oil, they don’t burn.

stuff the karela

3: in the same pan, add extra oil if required or if there is too much oil, then remove it. you can even take a fresh batch of oil. add the onions and begin to brown them. when the onions start to get browned, add the fried karela and saute for a few minutes till the onions are caramelized and crisp. if there is extra spice powder remaining, then add it in the pan and stir. the leftover spice powder is added towards the end, so that they don’t burn.

sauted onions for bharwan karela

4: while serving bharwan karela remove the threads. serve the bharwan karela with soft phulkas. they also make a good side dish with dal and rice.

bharwan karela recipe

bharwan karela recipe details below:

4.0 from 3 reviews

bharwan karela – stuffed bitter gourd
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
bharwan karela – bitter gourd stuffed with spice powders and sauted with caramelized onions.
Recipe type: side
Cuisine: north indian, punjabi
Serves: 3-4
  • 10-12 small karela/bitter gourd
  • ¾ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¾ tsp red chili powder
  • ¼ tsp punjabi garam masala
  • 1 tsp amchur powder
  • 1 tsp fennel powder/saunf powder
  • 2 medium sized onions, finely sliced
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • few chopped coriander leaves for garnish – optional
  • salt as required
  1. rinse and peel the karela.
  2. make a vertical cut on each karela keeping the base intact.
  3. remove the seeds and pith with your hands or scrape with a small spoon.
  4. mix all the dry spice powders with salt.
  5. stuff the spice powder mix in the karela.
  6. tie a thread tightly around each karela.
  7. heat the oil and fry the karela in the oil till they are browned and cooked.
  8. in the same oil, add the sliced onions and fry them till they begin to brown.
  9. add the karela and saute till they the onions become crisp and golden.
  10. add the rest of the spice mix, if there is a left over.
  11. in case if you have added less salt in the spice mix, you can add them now.
  12. while serving bharwan karela remove the thread and serve bharwan karela garnished with chopped coriander leaves.
  13. bharwan karela is best had with some rotis, phulkas or as a side vegetable dish with dal-rice.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

vijay patel February 26, 2014 1

Very nice dish


dassana amit February 27, 2014 2

thanks vijay


Samidha Sawant January 31, 2014 3

I love all your receipies.Big fan of urs.thanks.keep d good work


dassana amit January 31, 2014 4

welcome samidha


Deepa patel13511 August 8, 2013 5

i love this recipe
its just yamyyyyyyyyyyyyy……..
Thank u soooo much


dassana August 9, 2013 6

thanks deepa


Neerja May 14, 2013 7

I like your receipes very much. Its very simple and tasty. Thanks for sharing.


dassana May 14, 2013 8

thanks neerja.


Janani May 9, 2013 9

You are becoming my fav u got to stop doing this to me. More than I spend my time in my blog I am looking at ur site u have to stop it dear. There is some magic going on here well just kidding loving ur recipe plz keep up the good work.


dassana May 9, 2013 10

thanks for all your wonderful comments janani.


Renuka May 6, 2013 11

nice post dassana..
in punjab a very popular filling in karelas is grated onion which is fried in pan and then all the masalas u added are added to the mixture and filled in karelas…and here sauf is not added in powder form but sabut…
they also really taste well…..and have u tried the peel’s subzi..
karela peel is kept aside with salt in it for an hour and rinse it properly and remove all the water.. in kadai add cut onins and jeera and add this peel with all regular masalas mentioned in ur post…saunf ..if sabut tastes good in this recipe ‘s individual choice…:)


dassana May 6, 2013 12

i have tried all the possible versions of stuffed karela. i remember we had a maid from delhi, who would exactly do the technique you have described with the peels. some sabzi she would keep aside and some she would stuff in the kareal. i used to be so busy with work that time, that i never asked her the complete recipe. she would make really good stuffed karelas. in this she would add both roasted jeera as well as saunf powder.

also the punjabis make it the way you have described above. i have even tried this one. i am going to try making the peel sabzi next time. and also stuff them in the karela.


Cynthia May 5, 2013 13

Nice! We make this in the Caribbean and call it kalounjie. In addition to making a vegetarian version such as this we also make it stuffed with baby shrimp, ground beef and ground pork. Ours is sautéed in a masala paste with lots of tomatoes. :)


dassana May 6, 2013 14

hi cynthia, i did not know that karela is made in caribbean too. thanks for the info and tidbits.