Stir-Fried Karela/Bitter Melon/Bitter Gourd/Bitter Squash

Quick & Simple Karela Stir-fry

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Quick & Easy Karela/Bitter Melon/Bitter Gourd








Today, I would like to introduce you to one of my signature dishes which is quick and easy to prepare and requires minimal ingredients.

in design terms, you can call this minimalist

Bitter Melon Chinese VarietyBitter Melon Indian VarietyAround the world, karela is also known as bitter gourd or bitter melon or bitter squash but for convenience’s sake, I will refer to the vegetable as karela in this post.

My mum makes amazingly yummy stuffed karela. However, that recipe is a bit complicated so what I have done is use the spices from her recipe for a stir-friend version which requires little or no effort.

Top: Bitter Melon Chinese Variety; Bottom: Bitter Melon Indian Variety; Both images courtesy Wikipedia

This is my go to dish whenever I want a side vegetable for an Indian meal (which is how I had served today’s recipe, along with the simple chicken curry).

Whenever I visit any Oriental supermarket in London, I see karela gracing the vegetable aisles along with other vegetables specific to their cuisine. I have often wondered how it is used in Chinese or Japanese cooking.

In fact, according to Wikipedia, karela is also widely used in Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines and Trinidad and Tobago. So I invite my non-Indian kooky readers who cook with karela to share their recipe here. I am really fascinated and curious.

Here’s my kooky version of a quick and simple karela stir-fry.


300 Grams karela

1 Tablespoon chilli powder

1 Tablespoon turmeric powder

1 Tablespoon cumin powder

1 Tablespoon coriander powder

1 Tablespoon amchoor (dry mango) powder

1 Teaspoon asafoetida

1 Tablespoon oil

Salt to taste


  1. Wash and wipe the karela dry.
  2. Top and tail them and slice them very finely.
  3. In a bowl, mix the powdered spices (chilli, turmeric, cumin, coriander and amchoor).
  4. Add salt to the spice mix and sprinkle this all over the sliced karela. Toss well.
  5. At this stage, you can cover and set them aside for a couple of hours or cook them straight away.
  6. Heat oil in a wok. Add the asafoetida.
  7. When the asafoetida starts spluttering, add the karela.
  8. Stir fry on high heat for 2 to 3 minutes.
  9. Reduce the heat, cover and cook the vegetable for about 15 minutes.
  10. Uncover, check for doneness and if cooked, turn the heat on high and stir fry for a couple more minutes till they become slightly crisp.
  11. Remove to a serving dish.


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