We wanted to take this opportunity to clear up some confusion about a certain vegetable that gets mispronounced a lot. Kerala is an Indian state located in the Southwest region of the country.
It is a popular tourist destination, known for its backwaters, natural beauty and Ayurveda medicines.
Karela, on the other hand, is a tropical vegetable that is also referred to as bitter melon or gourd. It is widely grown in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean.
It can be identified by its prickly green texture and bitter taste. We love Karela and decided to share our love of this vegetable with you so you can grow to like it too.
After trying a couple of tricks, we came up with one that works and reduces the bitter flavor. This recipe is called Krazy Karela because some might think we're crazy for eating it. The recipe is enough for 5-6 (2 pieces per serving).
Ingredients for Krazy Stuffed Karela:
- 1 lb of Bitter Gourd/Karela, slender dark green variety
- Lime size of Tamarind or 1 tbsp of Tamarind paste (i.e. Tamcon)
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- Salt, As needed
Ingredients for the filling/stuffing:- 1 large Red onion, chopped finely
- 3 tbsp of Dry coconut powder (should be flaky not fine)
- 1 tbsp of Chili powder (Adjust to your taste)
- ¼ cup of Fresh coriander or cilantro, chopped
- Salt, as needed
Follow these steps to remove the bitterness of Karela:
1) Cut the ends of the karela and make a slit lengthwise. If there are any woody seeds remove them using butter knife. Cut the karela into 3” long pieces.
2) In a large pot bring 2 quarts of water to boil. Add the karela pieces along with tamarind, salt and a pinch of turmeric. Cook karela in the boiling water until they are soft and firm (a knife or fingernail should pass through easily). Drain the water using a colander and remove the remainder of the tamarind from the karela. (skip this step if using the paste)
Then follow these steps to cook the Karela:
1) In a skillet, heat a tbsp of oil and add chopped onion. Saute the onion until its almost transparent and then add salt, chili powder, and dry coconut powder.
2) Mix it until the water is evaporated and the oil comes out. Adjust the salt and heat (chili spice) level to your taste. Allow it to cool and then mix in chopped coriander.
3) Heat oil in a frying pan until you feel the heat on your palm while its held above the oil (at a safe height, usually 4-5 inches above oil). Turn the heat to medium/high and slowly drop the cooked karela into the oil and fry them to greenish brown. Remove from oil and stuff them with the onion filling.
It is great as a dish on its own or can be eaten with plain or brown rice. I love eating it on its own; that way you can really taste all the flavors.
***Quick Tip: If coriander or cilantro isn't readily available, try parsley. If you like more gravy based curries, try the Karela Curry. It's not as bitter.