bharwa karela recipe | stuffed bitter gourd recipe | bharwan karela recipe

3.36 from 14 votes

punjabi bharwan karela recipe - bitter gourd stuffed with spice powders and sauted with caramelized onions.

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bharwa karela or stuffed bitter gourd recipe. yet another classic indian recipe of bitter gourd stuffed with spice powders and sauted with caramelized onions. 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.

bharwan karela

bitter gourd was often made in our house and even while growing up i would just love the bitter taste. we would make bitter gourd fry, 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 bharwa 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.

if you are looking for more veggie recipes then do check stuffed capsicum, bharwa bhindi, bharwan tendli, matar mushroom and vegetable korma.

bharwa karela recipe below:

bharwa karela recipe, stuffed bitter gourd recipe
3.36 from 14 votes
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bharwa karela recipe | stuffed bitter gourd recipe

punjabi bharwan karela recipe - bitter gourd stuffed with spice powders and sauted with caramelized onions.

course side dish
cuisine north indian, punjabi
prep time 25 minutes
cook time 35 minutes
total time 1 hour
servings 3 to 4
author dassana amit

ingredients (1 cup = 250 ml)

  • 10 to 12 small karela (bitter gourd)
  • ¾ teaspoon turmeric powder (haldi)
  • ¾ teaspoon red chili powder (lal mirch powder)
  • ¼ teaspoon punjabi garam masala powder or garam masala powder
  • 1 teaspoon amchur powder (dry mango powder)
  • 1 teaspoon fennel powder (saunf powder)
  • 2 medium sized onions - finely sliced
  • 3 tablespoon oil
  • few chopped coriander leaves for garnish (optional)
  • salt as required

how to make recipe

preparation for bharwa karela recipe:

  1. rinse and peel the karela (bitter gourd).

  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.

making bharwa karela recipe:

  1. heat the oil and fry the karela in the oil till they are browned and cooked.
  2. in the same oil, add the sliced onions and fry them till they begin to brown.
  3. add the karela and saute till they the onions become crisp and golden.
  4. add the rest of the spice mix, if there is a left over.
  5. in case if you have added less salt in the spice mix, you can add them now.
  6. while serving bharwa karela remove the thread and serve bharwa karela garnished with chopped coriander leaves.

  7. bharwan karela is best had with some rotis, phulkas or as a side vegetable dish with dal-rice.

stepwise stuffed bitter gourd or bharwa 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 bharwa karela remove the threads. serve the bharwa karela with soft phulkas. they also make a good side dish with dal and rice.

bharwan karela recipe

dassana amit
Founder, Designer, Recipe Developer, Food Photographer ||

i started vegrecipesofindia.com in feb 2009. it is a pure vegetarian blog and shares recipes with step by step photos that will help you to make delicious and tasty vegetarian food easily.

i am passionate about cooking from childhood and learnt cooking from my elders. having a home science degree surely enhanced my cooking & baking skills which i now share as fool proof recipes on the blog. i am trained both in mainstream indian as well as international cuisines.


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34 thoughts on “bharwa karela recipe | stuffed bitter gourd recipe | bharwan karela recipe

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  1. plz tell if if it the dish has strong bitter taste because i don’t like it.
    can i apply salt (as many people do) before making to make it go away?

    • some bitterness is there as karela is inherently bitter. of course, you can apply salt on the karela and then rinse it.

  2. Hi Dassana
    I am trying ur recipes from last year. I tried veg kolhapur,veg handi & poodina rice.They turned out delicious.Everybody loved the taste.Hat’s off to recipes & fabulous way u explain them to readers.Today I am trying Bharwa Karela .I am sure it will taste as good as it looks in ur pics. Thanks for all ur recipes.Keep sharing.God bless u.

    • thank you akalpita 🙂 for your positive views. pleased to know you liked so many recipes from our blog. surely try bharwan karela and let us know how it was? you are welcome and god bless you too.

  3. I liked this recipe. Thank you for sharing Dasanna

    • thank you vanita 🙂 for your positive feedback.

  4. Can I just say I have & always will love Karela’s & I could eat them everyday but I usually make the filling separately from the outer shell which I lightly fry as too much oil & us Asians is a no no & I always pad out the filling so I can stuff theKarela’s to the max & then once made a reheat in the oven again is a healthier option

    • thanks for the suggestions darshan.

  5. Easy tasty.n.fast to.cook. recipes♥♥♥

    • thanks leena

  6. Made this for a dinner party last night. Did not have saunf powder so just substituted dhana/jeera powder instead. I thought I had purchased small Karelas but found the amount of masala to not be enough to stuff the Karelas. I was just able to rub the inside of each karela with the masala mix. I did not tie the karelas up since they did not looked stuffed with masala. I just fried them as instructed along with the onions. Once the onions were fried and caramelized, I pushed small amounts into the openings and continued frying them. The end result was amazingly delicious but have no idea what I could have done differently. My guests loved them and took the leftovers home but I am still curious to find out how small the Karelas should be in length for stuffing ? The ones I was able to purchase in California were between 3-5 inches long.

    • the spice blend for the kerala is always made depending on the size of the karela. mostly the smaller ones are between 2 to 3 inches in size. most of the times, i always have a few teaspoons of leftover masala. for next time if such a thing occurs, with the same proportions make another batch of the masala. its just mixing all the spice powders, so easy and not difficult. the masala has to stuffed evenly in the karela. the thread is tied so that the masala does not come out. along with the spices, its the caramelized onions that impart a really good taste and flavor in this recipe. so even stuffing karela with the onions will make them taste good.

  7. i think it is a good recipe.
    now Iam going to try this recipe

    • its a simple recipe. do try.