Bitter gourd is so widely disliked…and I feel bad because clearly those folks¬† have not tasted a yummy Karela curry!! Or a delicious bitter gourd chip! Or a sweet-bitter Karela subzi! I am not sure I can convince the nay-sayers that this is one amazing vegetable, but here I am with a seriously spicy tamarind curry made out of this much maligned vegetable! The sesame oil in which this is traditionally made transforms it and adds another layer of delicousness and aroma! Try it I say!


Bitter gourd (Karela), Sesame oil, Mustard seeds, Fenugreek seeds (methi), Tur dal, Tamarind paste, Sambar powder, Turmeric powder, Asafoetida, Jaggery, Black peppercorns, Cumin seeds, Curry leaves.


  1. Wash and slit 2 medium sized karelas down the middle and slice them about 1/4″ in thickness.
  2. To 3.5 cups of water, add about 5-6 tbsp of tamarind paste (or soak a big ball of tamarind and extract the pulp to make 3.5 cups of tamarind water). Keep aside.
  3. Heat a saucepan and add 2 tsps of methi seeds + 1 tsp of cumin seeds + 1 tsp of black peppercorns and roast them well till the aromas fill your kitchen! Dry grind them to a coarse powder and keep aside.
  4. Heat 4 tbsp of fragrant sesame oil in a pan.
  5. Add 2 tbsp of mustard seeds + 1 tsp of methi seeds.
  6. When the seeds start to splutter, add 1 tbsp of tur dal and saute till it turn a light brown.
  7. Reduce the heat and add 4 tbsp of Sambar powder (I personally like the 777 brand, but you can use the one that you prefer).
  8. Add the sliced karela and saute everything vigorously and mix everything well.
  9. Add the 3.5 cups of tamarind water.
  10. Add salt to taste, 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder, 1.5 tsp of asafoetida.
  11. Add a 1″ piece of jaggery or 2 tsp of molasses and stir everything well.
  12. Allow the curry to cook for 15-20 minutes till it attains a thickish but pouring consistency.
  13. Add the ground spice mix to the curry and mix well.
  14. Turn off the heat and tear up 6-7 curry leaves and add to the curry.
  15. Pour hot curry on steaming rice and serve with pumpkin subzi and a cold raita!

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