Khatta Meetha Karela: Sweet and Sour Bitter Gourd

Bitter melons at the market
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  • Total: 30 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 20 mins
  • Yield: Serves 4

Though Karela (Bitter Gourd) is not a particularly popular veggie in the eyes of the average consumer, this dish is pretty tasty and brings a unique flavor to the table. Serve it with hot chapatis the next time you're having a party!


  • 4 tender karelas (bitter gourds)
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil (or canola or sunflower cooking oil)
  • 6 curry leaves
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp. black mustard seeds
  • 2 green chilies (slit)
  • 1 small onion (chopped fine)
  • 1 tsp. ginger (grated)
  • 1 tsp. garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp. coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp. red chili powder
  • 1 tsp. raw mango powder
  • 1 tsp. tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp. grated jaggery
  • Salt to taste
  • Garnish: chopped coriander leaves

Steps to Make It

  1. Wash the karelas/bitter gourds well and pat dry. Cut off the top and 'tail' of each karela (discard) and then slit vertically down the center. Use a spoon to scoop out all the seeds from the center. Discard the seeds.

  2. Cut the karela halves into 1/4" thick pieces. Keep aside to use later.

  3. Heat the oil in a pan and add the curry leaves, mustard and cumin seeds and green chilies. When they stop spluttering, add the chopped onion and sauté for a minute.

  4. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté for another minute.

  5. Add the coriander, turmeric, red chili and raw mango powders and mix well. Sprinkle a little water and sauté for a minute, stirring well.

  6. Add the karela pieces, tamarind paste and salt to taste, stir and cook till the karela is soft.

  7. Add the jaggery and stir. Allow the jaggery to melt and begin to caramelize a little. Turn off the fire and garnish with the coriander leaves.

  8. Serve with hot Chapatis (Indian flatbread) or Parathas (pan-fried Indian flatbread).