Stuffed Bitter Gourd (Bharwan Karela) - North Indian Style
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 10 karelas
  • 10 karelas (bitter gourds), medium sized
  • 1 tsp salt + more to taste
  • 2 tbsp whole fennel seeds (saunf)
  • 2 tsp red chili powder (lal mirch)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
  • 4 Tbsp coriander powder (dhaniya )
  • 3 tsp dry mango powder ( khatai / aamchoor)
  • 3 tbsp oil
  1. Wash all the karelas ( bitter gourds) well with water as we are going to clean the top part, sort of zest the karela and use the zest of karela for stuffing. Then using a vegetable peeler, peel the bumpy top part and collect in a bowl.
  2. Once done with all of them, add ½ tsp salt to this and mix and cover. Keep it aside for good 2 hours.
  3. Then cut both the ends of karela.
  4. All cleaned up.
  5. Using a knife, cut an opening in the center of karela but BE CAREFUL not go all the way down as you want it to basically have a big pocket so you can stuff it with spices.
  6. Now take good amount of salt in a plate and rub salt all over the karelas and as well as inside, taking one karela in hand one at a time. Keep them aside as well for 2 hours.
  7. After 2 hours wash karelas one at a time under running tap water thoroughly by scrubbing with hands outside and inside of each karela to take out all the salt.
  8. Also add the zest (I ended with about ½ cup karela zest) to a strainer and clean under running water so all the salt comes out. Squeeze out all the water.
  9. Now make the spice mix, it's crushed fennel, ½ salt,red chili powder, turmeric, coriander powder, dry mango powder along with the washed zest of karelas. Try it to make sure if you have enough of salt.
  10. Mix all using hands so its all properly mixed.
  11. Now take the washed karelas one at a time and stuff generously with the masala stuffing we just made. Pack them tightly so stuffing don't fall out while cooking. If you end up with little extra stuffing, you can use it while cooking.
  12. Now take a deep heavy bottom pan and add 3 tbsp oil to it. You are going to keep the gas at the LOWEST SETTING all the time. They take a while to cook but you can keep doing other things, JUST REMEMBER TO KEEP GAS AT LOWEST SETTING AND KEEP GENTLY FLIPPING THEM FRONT AND BACK AFTER EVERY 10 MINUTES.
  13. Place the stuffed karelas into the pan and if you have leftover stuffing masala, just add it to the pan as well. Cover and cook on lowest heat setting for good 40-50 minutes, keep flipping the karelas carefully front and back (one at a time when flipping so stuffing don't come out!).
  14. Once all done enjoy any way you like!
  15. My favorite way to eat them is along with parathas and some yogurt sweetened with sugar.
Recipe by Naive Cook Cooks at