Summer is in full swing and I am enjoying all my favorites of this season like okra, muskmelons, peaches, and bitter gourd. Yes, you heard me right! I am fond of bitter gourd aka Karela. Not only, it is super healthy and additionally they are super tasty and can be prepared in multiple ways to keep it interesting.

Bitter gourd is well known for its sugar-lowering qualities but few know that it also reduces blood cholesterol, improves immunity, eyesight, hair, and skin quality too.

I am sharing the Bharwa Karela recipe (stuffed bitter gourd) based on how my mom used to create it. She would slit small bitter gourds, stuff them with masala and securely wrap them with a thread to secure the stuffing inside. So when I found really cute small bitter gourds in the farmers market this week, I couldn’t resist buying them and recreating this childhood favorite.

If you are a Karela fan like me, then do try this amazing Malai Karela recipe too.

COOKING TIME: 10 minutes


  1. Bitter gourd – 7-8
  2. Onion – 2, medium
  3. Fennel seeds – 1 tablespoon
  4. Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon
  5. Turmeric powder – ½ teaspoon
  6. Red chilli powder – ½ teaspoon
  7. Coriander powder – 2 tablespoons
  8. Raw mango powder – 1 tablespoon
  9. Mustard oil – 1-2 tablespoons
  10. Salt – 2-3 tablespoons


  1. Non – stick pan
  2. Strainer
  3. Peeler


Preparing the karelas –
  1. Thoroughly wash and pat the bitter gourds/karelas dry.
  2. Peel the bitter gourd and save these skins shavings, we will use them for the stuffing.
  3. Slit the bitter gourds and remove all the seeds from inside. Use a fork to do this.
  4. Save all the soft raw seeds. Remove the ripe and hard seeds.
  5. Now drizzle salt generously on the slit bitter gourd and the skin and seeds too.
Add some salt and keep aside for 4-5 hours

6. Keep them aside for 4-5 hours. This will remove all the bitterness from the bitter gourd.
7. Thoroughly was the bitter gourd and the skins and seeds under running water to remove all the excess salt.              8. Now place them on a strainer for 30 minutes to drain completely.

Preparing the masala and stuffing the karelas –

9. Ground fennel seeds into a coarse powder.
10. Take the skin and seeds in a bowl. Add the coarse fennel powder, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, raw mango powder, coriander powder, and salt.

Ingredients for masala

11. Peel one onion and pulse it in a grinder for a few seconds. We don’t want a complete pulp, but just finely chopped pieces. You can also use a grater instead.
12. Mix this onion into the masala.
13. Mix the masala and start stuffing into the karelas.
14. Take a thread and wrap around the stuffed karela/ bitter gourd so that the masala doesn’t fall out.

Stuffed Karelas

15. Repeat this for all the bitter gourds. If there is some masala left, don’t worry, we will use this later.
16. Now take a non-stick pan and add some mustard oil to it. Once that heats up, add a few cumin seeds.
17. Now place the karelas/bitter gourd into the pan. Keep tossing them every 4-5 minutes so that they cook perfectly on all sides.

Cook the karelas on a non-stick pan

18. Once they are about half-done, add the remaining masala (if any) to the pan along with another thinly sliced onion.

Now add the leftover masala and thinly sliced onions

19. Cover the lid and let them sweat for about 4-5 minutes and then remove from heat.
20. Mix again and keep them covered for 5-10 minutes.

Stuffed Bitter Gourd/Bharwa Karela is ready. Enjoy with hot chapattis.