bitter gourd pickle or karela pickle recipe – this pickle is made very differently than the usual method of making pickles.
if you like bitter gourd or bitter melon you will for sure like this pickle too. the pickle uses simple ingredients like fenugreek seeds/methi, mustard seeds, garlic, green chilies, oil… and is made in vinegar. the pickle is cooked on stove top… then stored in a bottle and its ready to use. initially the bitter taste of the bitter gourd is dominant in the pickle. but after keeping the pickle for some days, the bitter taste mellows and become a bit less with sour notes from the vinegar taking over.
i adapted this recipe from a book which only has pickle recipes in hindi. i had got this pickle book complimentary many years ago on purchasing dhara mustard oil. the original recipe called for white vinegar and sesame oil. but i substituted with apple cider vinegar and mustard oil.
this karela pickle was liked very much by my parents. in fact i gave away half of the pickle to them when they had visited us. the pickle goes very well with simple indian food like dal-rice, sambar-rice, curd-rice or rasam-rice or kadhi rice combo.
karela or bitter gourd pickle recipe below:
- 250 grams bitter gourd (karela or bitter melon)
- 1 teaspoon mustard (rai)
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi seeds)
- 150 ml white vinegar, a little more than half cup or about 10 tablespoon of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 60 ml - about ¼ cup or 4 tablespoon mustard oil or sesame oil - regular sesame oil and not the asian one
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder (lal mirch powder)
- 8 to 9 garlic, thinly sliced (lahsun)
- 5 to 6 green chilies, slit
- salt as required
- first rinse the bitter gourd well. if there are bruises on the skin, then you can slightly peel of that part. no need to peel the entire bitter gourd.
- slice the bitter gourd vertically and remove the seeds. chop the bitter gourd into small pieces.
- sprinkle salt on the chopped bitter gourd and mix well. keep this bitter gourd – salt mixture aside for 30 minutes.
- after 30 mins, squeeze the salted bitter gourd and discard the juices. rinse once again. drain well and keep aside.
- heat the mustard oil till it starts smoking. add mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and fry till the mustard crackles.
- add garlic and fry for 10-12 seconds. then add green chilies and fry for 30 seconds.
- then add bitter gourd/karela. saute for 7-8 minutes.
- add vinegar and salt. stir and bring the pickle mixture to a boil - about 3 to 4 minutes
- add red chili powder. stir well again. let the mixture cool.
- just cover the pan with a cotton napkin instead of lid as we don't want condensation droplets on the lid.
- when completely cooled, pour the bitter gourd pickle in a clean sterilized jar.
- close the jar with its lid and keep the bitter gourd pickle in the refrigerator.
- serve the bitter gourd or karela pickle with an indian meal like dal-rice, sambar-rice or curd-rice or kadhi-rice.
step by step bitter gourd or karela pickle recipe:
1. first rinse the bitter gourd well. if there are bruises on the skin, then you can slightly peel of that part. slice the bitter gourd and remove the seeds. chop the bitter gourd. sprinkle salt on the chopped bitter gourd and mix well. keep this bitter gourd – salt mixture aside for 30 minutes. after 30 mins, squeeze the salted bitter gourd and discard the juices. rinse once again. drain well and keep aside.
2. heat the mustard oil till it begins to smoke. add the fenugreek seeds and mustard seeds.
3. once they crackle, add thinly sliced garlic and fry for 10-12 seconds.
4. then add slit green chilies and fry for 30 seconds.
5. add the bitter gourd pieces to the pan.
6. stir and saute the bitter gourd for 7-8 minutes on a low to medium flame. then add the vinegar and salt.
7. bring the karela pickle mixture to a boil – about 3-4 minutes. add red chili powder.
8. stir and let the mixture cool. the pickle will have some vinegar and is not dry. after storing the bitter gourd pickle matures in a few weeks but you can have it straight away once cooled. you can also allow it to mature for 2-3 days. in this case too, you can keep the pickle in the refrigerator.
once cooled, transfer the bitter gourd pickle in a clean sterilized bottle with a clean non reactive spoon. close the jar and keep the pickle in the fridge and serve the bitter gourd pickle whenever required. the pickle stays good for 3 months in refrigeration.