Karela or bitter gourd is a staple summer veggie in India and can be made in numerous variations. Some most common styles are the fried crispy chips version, the potato-karela sabzi version, the famous bharwa 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.

COOKING TIME: 30 minutes


  1. Bitter Gourd/karela – 4-5
  2. Onion – 1, large
  3. Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon
  4. Red chilli powder – 1 teaspoon
  5. Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
  6. Coriander powder – 1 tablespoon
  7. Milk – 1 cup
  8. Heavy Cream – 1 tablespoon, optional
  9. Mustard oil – 2 tablespoons
  10. Coriander leaves – for garnish
  11. Salt – 2-3 tablespoons


  1. Wash the bitter gourd and cut them into round diagonal slices. Remove the seeds if they are ripe and hard.
  2. 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.
  3. Wash the karela slices under running water to remove all the salt and keep them in a strainer to dry slightly.
  4. In a wok or kadhai, add 1-2 tablespoons of mustard oil and heat on high flame till it becomes transparent.
  5. Add cumin seeds and allow them to crackle.
  6. Thinly slice the onion in long pieces and add it to the wok.
  7. Constantly stir the onions on medium heat and allow them to turn brown.
  8. Reduce the heat and add turmeric, red chilli and coriander powder.
  9. Add the karelas/gourd slices to the wok and add salt to taste.
  10. 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.
  11. Add a cup of milk and mix well and allow the mixture to simmer for 10 more minutes.
  12. The gravy will turn creamier and thick after that. Pinch a piece to see of the gourd slices are cooked.
  13. 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.
  14. Serve hot with any flatbread – roti/paratha or with rice and any dal.


  1. 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.
  2. It’s not necessary to leave the gourd overnight. You could leave it for 2-3 hours or so.
  3. Since the gourd is kept in salt, please be careful of the amount of salt you add in the vegetable.