Karela, bitter gourd,bitter melon or bitter squash is a notorious vegetable  in proverbs and sayings for its bitter flavor like ‘karwa karela’, ‘karela si batein’ but the bitterness has sweet effects on health. Kerela/bitter gourd are made just like other vegetables, the trick is to reduce its bitterness to enjoyable level. Like it will still be slightly bitter but the bitter sour taste is the delicacy of this vegetable.This is simple karela recipe, I’ll soon share recipe of qeema karela too which has an absolutely delightful taste.

My other masala recipes that you might like Bhindi Masala, Aloo Palak.

Benefits of Karela

I’m also adding few benefits of karela that might help motivating you and others in the family to eat Kerala/bitter gourd more often.

  • low calorie (17 calorie/ 1oo gm)
  • rich in dietary fiber, minerals (folates), vitamins C and anti-oxidants.
  • It contain plant insulin (polypeptide-P) and hypoglycemic agent (charantin). Both are helpful in treatment of type 2 diabetes.
  • Good for early pregnancy.

Recipe of karela masala/ how to make karela masala


A simple but delicious recipe of karela that can eaten with roti or rice and is made in no time.

Recipe time: 35 min|Prep time:15 min|Cooking time:20 min|Recipe type: lunch recipe, vegan, vegetarian, diabetes friendly, low calorie, healthy, budget friendly recipe|Cuisine: Indian, Pakistani, Bangladesh


  • 500 gm Bitter gourd/ karela
  • 2 small chopped onion (piyaz)
  • 2 medium chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbs small green chili paste
  • 1/2 tbs chopped garlic, 3-4 cloves
  • 1 tsp ginger paste (adrak)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (sabut zeera)
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seed (kali rai), optional
  • 1/2 tsp black seeds (kalongi), optional
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi dana), optional
  • Coriander powder (dhanya powder)
  • Turmeric powder (haldi powder)
  • salt to taste
  • 3 tbs lemon juice
  • 2-4 tbs oil (less or more to your choice)
  • 1 tsp brown sugar (optional)
  • fresh coriander for garnish


  1. Wash and peel bitter gourd, cut in half, remove flesh and seeds. Cut into thick slices.
  2. In a bowl take sliced bitter gourd and add 1 tsp salt and 2 tbs lemon juice. mix well and leave for at least 30 minutes.
  3. In a vessel take oil, heat on low flame and add garlic and fry till light golden.
  4. Add dry whole spices (cumin, fenugreek, mustard, black seed) first, then powder spices (turmeric and coriander powder), finally add green chili and ginger paste. Saute for 1 minute.
  5. Add chopped onion, saute till onion are soft.
  6.  Add chopped tomatoes cover and cook for 5 minutes on low flame or till tomato are soft.
  7. Wash karela slices in water and squeeze them to reduce bitterness.
  8. Add sliced karela and cook for 10 minutes until soft.
  9. Karela masala is ready, serve with kachumber salad, mint raita and roti or rice.

see notes.

Step by step Karela Masala Recipe

I got these super fresh karela from a friends farm. First wash the bitter gourd and peel it lightly, just remove ridges to have smooth skin.img_0143

Cut in half and remove flesh and seeds. Now cut in thick slices.img_0144

Take slices in a bowl and add salt and lemon juice to remove bitterness of karela. We will let this rest for 30 minutes at least. You can also do this a day ahead, and store karela in fridge.img_0145

In a vessel take oil and saute garlic till light golden, keep the flame low.img_0146

Add dry spices, like mustard seeds,cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, black  seeds in oil first then add powdered spices like coriander and turmeric. I don’t like whole spices (garam masala)in vegetables but you can if like at this point. See notes no.1

Add onions, green chili paste and ginger paste. Mix well and saute till onion for 3-4 minutes on medium flame or till they turn soft.


Add chopped tomatoes and  stir well and cover.Cook for 5 minutes or till tomatoes are soft on medium flame.

While onion and tomatoes fry, we wash the sliced karela with water and squeeze. I squeeze lightly as a lot of benefits are in its juice. see notes 4 and 5img_0149

Add kerala to the onion and tomato gravy. Add salt and cover and cook for 10 min or till karela are soft.


Now, I don’t overcook it and add lemon juice here, but you go on sauteing (bhunofying) if you like. see notes 2 and 3.


  1. Vegetable are lighter food so I don’t add a lot of whole spices (garam masala), just cumin,and instead I use mustard, fenugreek, kalonji to add both taste and health benefit of these seeds. So they are optional ingredients.
  2. You can use more oil if you like.
  3. If you squeeze the karela hardly they will be less bitter.
  4. Diabetics patient can drink 2 tbsp of karela juice.
  5. Another methods of removing bitterness of karela is boiling them in salty water, and / or frying karela very well in oil.

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