Karela or bitter gourd is a staple summer veggie in India Not a lot of us are fond of this bitter vegetable but do you know it is full of anti-oxidants and rich in Vitamin A and C. It has high anti-ageing, anti-dandruff properties and is a natural blood purifier. It is highly recommended to diabetics. I plant a few seeds every year and enjoy fresh karelas from my vine – I usually make a morning detox juice of karela-cucumbers and tomato or this Malai Karela recipe that I have become so fond of.
Some most common cooking styles are the fried crispy chips version, the potato-karela sabzi version, the famous Bharwa/Stuffed Karela and so on. Recently a friend suggested trying this in a milk-based gravy or Malai Karela recipe and I frankly couldn’t relate to it. But I decided to humour her anyway and decided to make this. And guess what, I really liked it. So here’s the Malai Karela recipe. Hope you like it too.
PREPARATION TIME: 15 minutes
COOKING TIME: 30 minutes
DIFFICULTY SCALE: Low
- Bitter Gourd/karela – 4-5
- Onion – 1, large
- Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon
- Red chilli powder – 1 teaspoon
- Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
- Coriander powder – 1 tablespoon
- Milk – 1 cup
- Heavy Cream – 1 tablespoon, optional
- Mustard oil – 2 tablespoons
- Coriander leaves – for garnish
- Salt – 2-3 tablespoons
- Wash the bitter gourd and cut them into round diagonal slices. Remove the seeds if they are ripe and hard.
- Keep them in a plate with 2 tablespoons of salt. Coat them thoroughly with your hands and keep overnight. This step will ensure to remove the bitterness of the gourd.
- Wash the karela slices under running water to remove all the salt and keep them in a strainer to dry slightly.
- In a wok or kadhai, add 1-2 tablespoons of mustard oil and heat on high flame till it becomes transparent.
- Add cumin seeds and allow them to crackle.
- Thinly slice the onion in long pieces and add it to the wok.
- Constantly stir the onions on medium heat and allow them to turn brown.
- Reduce the heat and add turmeric, red chilli and coriander powder.
- Add the karelas/gourd slices to the wok and add salt to taste.
- Cover with a lid and allow them to cook until they are more than half done. This will take 12-15 minutes on low flame.
- Add a cup of milk and mix well and allow the mixture to simmer for 10 more minutes.
- The gravy will turn creamier and thick after that. Pinch a piece to see of the gourd slices are cooked.
- You could add a tablespoon of cream if you like them to be creamier, but this is not necessary. I didn’t add cream in this version.
- Serve the Malai Karela hot with roti/paratha or with rice and any dal.
- Cut the gourd into slices of about half an inch in thickness. If you cut extremely thin or thick slices, the cooking time may vary.
- It’s not necessary to leave the gourd overnight. You could leave it for 2-3 hours or so.
- Since the gourd is kept in salt, please be careful of the amount of salt you add in the vegetable.