Bharwa karela is a popular stuffed bitter gourd recipe from the North Indian Cuisine. This classic Indian recipe of bitter gourd stuffed with spice powders and sauteed with caramelized onions is made in Punjabi Households. A Vegan Dish.
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 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 powder. But I strongly recommend adding fennel powder as its sweet flavors just enhance 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 – karela sabzi (Punjabi style)
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 a 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.
Stepwise stuffed bitter gourd or bharwa karela
1: Rinse the bitter gourds. 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.
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.
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.
4: While remove the threads. Serve the bharwa karela with soft phulkas. They also make a good side dish with dal and rice.
If you are looking for more veggie recipes then do check:
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- 10 to 12 small karela (bitter gourd)
- ¾ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ¾ teaspoon red chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon punjabi garam masala powder or garam masala powder
- 1 teaspoon amchur powder (dry mango powder)
- 1 teaspoon fennel powder
- 2 medium sized onions - finely sliced
- 3 tablespoon oil
- few chopped coriander leaves for garnish (optional)
- salt as required
- Rinse and peel the karela (bitter gourd).
- Make a vertical cut on each karela keeping the base intact.
- Remove the seeds and pith with your hands or scrape with a small spoon.
- Mix all the dry spice powders with salt.
- Stuff the spice powder mix in the karela.
- Tie a thread tightly around each karela.
making bharwa karela
- Heat the oil and fry the karela in the oil till they are browned and cooked.
- In the same oil, add the sliced onions and fry them till they begin to brown.
- Add the karela and saute till they the onions become crisp and golden.
- Add the rest of the spice mix, if there is a left over.
- In case if you have added less salt in the spice mix, you can add them now.
- While serving remove the thread and serve bharwa karela garnished with chopped coriander leaves.
- Bharwan karela is best had with some rotis, phulkas or as a side vegetable dish with dal-rice.
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