Rinse and then peel karela. Then chop in small pieces.
Remove the seeds while chopping. If the karela is small and tender, then these will have tender seeds and they cannot be removed.
If karela is very bitter, then add some salt on chopped karela pieces. Mix very well and allow this mixture to sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Then squeeze the karela and rinse them very well in water again. This will get rid of some bitterness from the karela.
Making karela sabji
In a kadai or pan, heat 2 tablespoons oil. You can use any neutral flavored oil.
Let the oil become hot. Then reduce the heat to a low and add the chopped karela.
Mix chopped karela with oil and sauté on a low to medium-low flame. Stir often while sautéing.
Sauté the karela for 4 to 5 minutes.
Then add thinly sliced onions.
Mix the sliced onions with the karela.
Sprinkle turmeric powder, kashmiri red chili powder and salt as per taste. Mix very well.
On a low heat continue to sauté stirring often. Sprinkle some water if onion or karela starts sticking to pan. Mix and deglaze removing any bits stuck to the pan and continue to saute.
Sauté the karela sabji for 10 to 12 minutes till the both the karela and onions are cooked. The onions will also become golden and caramelize by this time. Keep on stirring often.
When the onions have lightly caramelize and the bitter gourd pieces are tender and soft, sprinkle dry mango powder and garam masala.
Mix very well and then switch off the heat.
Serve karela sabzi with phulka, paratha and a bowl of fresh plain curd or sweetened curd. This bitter gourd curry also goes very well as a side vegetable dish or accompaniment with the combination of dal rice or kadhi chawal. You can garnish with some coriander leaves if you want.
It can be packed for lunch box with a side of paratha or roti.½
How to remove bitterness from karela - In india, we do not get extremely bitter karelas. But, if you get the karela which are very bitter, then mix some salt on the chopped karela and keep aside for 20 to 30 minutes. The salt extracts the bitterness. Rinse in water and then use in the recipe. Alternatively, you could also put them in salted water. Keep them in the salted water for 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse them with fresh water and then add them to the recipe.
A few updates from readers' comments:Karela seeds can be weeded out due to the reason that they are toxic and should be avoided during pregnancy. Red arils (covering on seeds) are reportedly toxic in children, causing vomiting, diarrhea, and sickness.
For a more tangy taste increase the amount of dry mango powder by ½ teaspoon. If you don't have dry mango powder then drizzle ½ to 1 teaspoon lemon juice or as required, when you add garam masala powder.