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: 4 servings

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

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. 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.

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

  4. 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.

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

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

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

  8. 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.

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

  10. Enjoy!