Kerela Curry

Karela Curry
Delicious bitterness!

Kerela or bitter gourd is a polarising vegetable because of its bitter taste. Speak to any Bengali about Kerela and they will no doubt tell you about its spectacular medicinal properties and health benefits.
It’s certainly been held in high esteem in my family but regardless of its claims there is no doubt its one of those vegetables you either like or hate! LET’S TALK ABOUT VEG!


Me, well I just love most things bitter including Karela! No surprise there!
So, how do you cook it?

There are endless methods and for me all amazing!
I like it fried, boiled, steamed, in Dal but this is my favourite. It’s simple, it’s humble and it only uses handful of generic ingredients often found in every Bengali or curry makers larder.

When I make this curry, I can say with certainty that is the only curry I will choose to eat for my meal even if there are other dishes to have too.

Karela lovers I ask you to try this because I don’t think you’ll be disappointed if you cook out the ingredients thoroughly. You will have a mighty vegetable dish!


3 small karela
. do not get any ripening ones that are going orange as they will have hard inedible seeds
I blitzed my onions today. I added the chilli into the onion paste. Next I blitzed the tomato separately

1 large tomato blitzed to pulp
3 small Kerela cut into inch wide rounds
1 dried chilli 6 green chillies
1 bayleaf
1 medium onion finely chopped or blitzed to paste.
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
quarter cup of oil
1 tsp garlic and ginger paste
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp gharam masala


Steam or parboil the kerala until they are almost done.

In Karai add some oil, when it’s hot and one dried chili, bay leaf and then your onion, salt and sugar. Fry the onions till there is no liquid content and the onions have lost their raw smell and taken on some colour from caramelisation.

Add your garlic and ginger paste and continue to cook until the onions have softened and you see the oil splitting.

Add your turmeric and chilli powder. Cook this for a few minutes then add your tomato paste. Now cook this off until the oil is released and surfacing. Continue to cook this adding splashes of water for a good 7 to 8 minutes.
We want to keep taking it to the point where the oil splits and then you add water and you repeat to ensure that everything is cooked out and onions are mushy.

Next add your steamed Karela and cook for a further 4 to 5 minutes.
Now add a cup of water, cover and cook until the karela is cooked through and most the water has evaporated.
You should have a lovely thick masala sauce and tender kerala.
Add the gharam masala stir, cook for couple of minutes.

Serve with hot roti/chappatis.

Step by step pics below:

Steam or parboil the Karela
Heat oil and add dried chillies and bayleaf
Add onions
Really fry this off well. Taste to ensure no rawness but nutty taste.
Add garlic ginger
Now take your time.add water splashes but get that cooked of so you have a sweet mellow flavour no raw harshness
Add spices
Add salt cook spices for few minutes adding splashes of water and getting to oil splitting stage
Add tomato paste
Once again cook this really well for good 5 minutes using the splashes of water and cook till oil splits
add karela
Add few sliced green chillies
Cook well covered low and slow till you see pockets of oil
Add cup water
Cook on low till oil separates
Add gharam masala and cook for couple of minutes


I used onion paste today but it will cook quicker using chopped onion and you have more caremalisation.

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