Stuffed Karela (Bitter Melon)

December 7th, 2010 filed under Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetables Sauteed / Dry
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Stuffed karela makes a great side dish to any meal. Karelas have many health benefits including  a home remedy for diabetes.

Recipe will serve 4 to 6


For the Marinate:

  • 4 bitter melon (karela)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

For the Filling

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1/8 teaspoon asafetida (hing)
  • 2 tablespoons gram flour (besan)
  • 2 tablespoons coriander powder (dhania)
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds powder (saunf)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder adjust to taste
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon mango powder (amchoor)

For Cooking Step

  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Also need some thread to wrap the filled karelas before cooking.


Preparing the Kerala

  1. Wash karelas thoroughly and using a knife, scrape the skin. Set the scrapes aside.
  2. Make a slit in the karelas length wise and remove the seeds.
  3. Add karelas and the skin scrapings to a bowl. Mix and sprinkle with salt and lemon juice. Let it marinate for at least an hour.
  4. Squeeze the karelas to remove all the marinade. Wash karelas twice with hot water and then squeeze out all the water.
  5. Separate the scrapings from the whole karelas.

Preparing the Filling:

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Test the heat by adding one cumin seed to the oil; if the seed cracks right away, the oil is ready.
  2. Add the cumin seeds and asafetida to the oil. After the cumin seeds crack, add the karela scrapings and stir fry for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add gram flour (besan) and stir-fry for another minute.
  4. Add all the remaining dry spices: coriander powder, fennel powder, turmeric, chili powder, and mango powder. Sauté for a minute and then turn off the heat.
  5. Stuff the split karelas with this spice mixture (there should be some spice mix remaining, which will be used later). Tie the karelas with a thread so that the stuffing does not come out while cooking.

Cooking the Stuffed karelas:

  1. Add 2 tablespoons of oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Spread the stuffed karelas in the pan and sprinkle with salt. Cover the pan and let it cook for about 2 minutes.
  2. Turn the karelas over to the uncooked side and cook for about 1 minute. Repeat until all four sides of the karelas are cooked.
  3. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of water and the remaining spice mixture over the karelas. Cover the pan and let it cook for 2 more minutes.
  4. Remove the lid to see if the karelas are tender. Gently turn them over a few more times, making sure they are covered with the spice mixture.
  5. Stuffed karela can be served hot or cold and can be refrigerated up to a week.


For a slightly sweeter taste add 2 tablespoons of sugar to the cooked spice filling, prior to stuffing the karela.

If you enjoyed the recipe for Stuffed Karela (Bitter Melon), here are more great recipes you should try from Manjula's Kitchen.

31 Responses to “Stuffed Karela (Bitter Melon)”

  1. geetika says:


    You didn’t mention whether we have to wash marinated scraps and seeds or not

  2. shalini says:

    The stuffed karela recipe seems to be very interesting, i would definitely want to give it a try, although im a bit skeptical about using the karela scrappings in the filling, as I feel they are more bitter than the actual whole karela..not sure though

  3. Idli Chutnet says:

    Can you add a recipe for Papdi…. the flat green beans.

  4. mercy says:

    Hi Manjula,
    This is an excellent recipe. Thank you for explaining while you demonstrate.

    If you do not mind, I like to use the stainsteel frying pan that you use in this video. I have seen you using the same in many recipes. I am trying to do exactly as you do in your kitchen. Would you tell me what kind of pan is used in the video. Normally stainless steel pan stick. Please pardon me for asking on your pan.

    I have tried your tomato chutney. It is one of the favourite dishes in my home now. Thank you again for your website. I would appreciate a reply from you.

  5. savita says:

    if we also add the chopped onion in the stuffing…it also gives a Delicious flavor…

  6. Aayushi says:

    Super tasty and healthy ! I added 1 spoon sugar to it and did not tie with thread but it went very well.

    I did not like karela before this recipe. Now I love it.

    Thank you.

  7. Monalisa says:

    This karela recipe is realy tasty,
    the bitterness was less.
    I never liked karela bub this really tasted good.
    In stuffing u can also add paneer grated ,kaju and kismiss it will add a sweet flovour.
    It would taste really good.
    What say?

  8. Zeenath says:

    Manjula aunty i just love your videos and the way you explain ever detail thanks a lot for this particular recipe I used a very unhealthy filling earlier but this one is yummy and healthy. i supplemented with the karela seeds while frying the cumin it gave a nice crunch to the filling. this was also in a way inspired by you. your zucchini rice is another major hit with my sons. thank you. will give the cereal chivda a try this week end heres wishing they like it.

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