Khatta Meetha Karela: Sweet and Sour Bitter Gourd

Khatta Meetha Karela: Sweet and Sour Bitter Gourd

The Spruce / Julia Estrada

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
180 Calories
5g Fat
35g Carbs
3g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 180
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 5g 7%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 207mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 35g 13%
Dietary Fiber 6g 20%
Total Sugars 22g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 113mg 567%
Calcium 64mg 5%
Iron 2mg 11%
Potassium 615mg 13%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Karela, also known as bitter gourd and bitter melon, is a popular ingredient in many Asian countries. In India, it is often made into a dish called khatta meetha karela, where the bitter gourd is cooked with several ingredients, including cumin, chilies, ginger, coriander, and turmeric. It's a flavorful vegetarian dish that highlights karela perfectly.

The sweetness comes from both tamarind paste and jaggery, an unrefined sugar made in Asia with a lightly caramelized taste. All of these ingredients create a sweet and sour combination, bringing a unique flavor to the table, and helping to balance out any bitterness from the bitter gourd. Serve khata mettha karela with other Indian dishes and hot chapatis (Indian flatbread).

Ingredients

  • 4 tender karelas (bitter gourds)

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or canola or sunflower oil)

  • 6 curry leaves

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds

  • 2 green chilies (slit)

  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)

  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger

  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste

  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder

  • 1 teaspoon raw mango powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste

  • Salt to taste

  • 1 tablespoon grated jaggery

  • Garnish:

    coriander leaves (chopped)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Khatta Meetha Karela: Sweet and Sour Bitter Gourd ingredients

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

  2. Wash the karelas well and pat dry. Cut off the top and "tail" of each karela and discard.

    Cut off the top and "tail" of each karela

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

  3. Slit the gourds vertically down the center. Use a spoon to scoop out all the seeds from the center and discard the seeds. Cut the karela halves into 1/4-inch-thick pieces. Set aside.

    Slit the gourds vertically down the center, scoop out all the seeds, and cut into pieces

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

  4. Heat the oil in a pan and add the curry leaves, cumin and mustard seeds, and green chilies.

    add curry leaves, cumin and mustard seeds, and green chilies to the oil in the pan

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

  5. When they stop spluttering, add the chopped onion and sauté for a minute.

    add onions to he chilies and spices in the pan

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

  6. Add the ginger and garlic paste and sauté for another minute.

    add ginger and garlic paste to the onions, chilies and spices in the pan

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

  7. Add the coriander, mango powder, turmeric, and red chili powder and mix well. Sprinkle a little water on top and sauté for a minute, stirring well.

    Add the coriander, mango powder, turmeric, and red chili powder to the onion mixture in the pan

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

  8. Add the karela pieces, tamarind paste, and salt to taste; stir and cook until the karela is soft.

    Add the karela pieces, tamarind paste, and salt to the mixture in the pan

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

  9. Stir in the jaggery. Allow the sugar to melt and begin to caramelize a little.

    Khatta Meetha Karela: Sweet and Sour Bitter Gourd in a pan

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

  10. Remove from the heat and garnish with the chopped fresh coriander leaves.

    Khatta Meetha Karela: Sweet and Sour Bitter Gourd in a bowl

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

Tip

Look for bitter gourd that is brightly colored, firm, and free of blemishes. You can find karela, sometimes labeled as bitter melon, in Asian markets.

What Are the Health Benefits of Bitter Gourd?

Karela is celebrated by some for its health properties. While it has not yet been widely studied, it is believed to aid in cancer prevention. While further study is needed, bitter gourd is high in vitamin C and A and low in fat and calories, making it a nutritious choice.

Article Sources
The Spruce Eats uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Dandawate PR, Subramaniam D, Padhye SB, Anant S. Bitter melon: a panacea for inflammation and cancer. Chin J Nat Med. 2016;14(2):81-100. doi:10.1016/S1875-5364(16)60002-X