Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Bittergourd and Basmati (Karela Pulao)

Kakarakaaya Annam

This is a sweet way to prepare karela (bittergourd), especially for those finicky family members who say they don’t like bittergourd. This colorful karela rice laced with golden jaggery and ripe red chillies, may just win them over.

The recipe is result of my experimentation in the kitchen and inspired by my mother’s Kakarakaaya Kura. I was pleasantly surprised at how the fresh karela, ripe red chillies and jaggery combination made this out of the ordinary basmati rice preparation extraordinary. Hot and sweet with bitter note, karela pulao tasted like life served on a plate. Definitely worth experiencing.

Karela, Ripe Red Chillies, Red Onion, Jaggery and Curry Leaves

(Serves 2 as a main meal.)

Cook one cup basmati rice in two cups of water to tender.

Pick 6 fresh looking karela. Scrape the outer ridges with a peeler. Wash, remove the ends and finely chop to tiny pieces (about one cup).
Peel and finely chop one red onion lengthwise (about half cup)
Pick 6 ripe red chillies and slice lengthwise to thin pieces

Karela Pulao:
In a wide skillet, heat a tablespoon ghee until a curry leaf tossed in it sizzles. Keep the heat to medium. Add a sprig of curry leaves and toast to pale gold color. Add the onion and ripe red chillies. Saute them to soft brown. Next goes the karela pieces. Saute and when they are tender brown, stir in about quarter cup of jaggery pieces, half teaspoon each- turmeric and salt. Sprinkle two tablespoons of water and mix.

Now the cooking process gets interesting. First jaggery starts to bubble, then becomes watery syrup like. Stir continuously. Jaggery cooks to thick consistency and coats vegetable like caramel. This is what we want and this process allows jaggery’s full flavor to develop. It takes anywhere between 15-20 minutes on medium heat. At this stage add the cooked basmati rice and half cup toasted peanuts. Mix thoroughly. Taste for salt and adjust to your liking. Remove the karela pulao from the heat. Serve at once with a cup of yogurt and fruit for a complete meal.

If there is a flavor combination that describes my mother, then this is it. So I would like dedicate and name this creation of mine after my mother Rajeswari.

I look forward to hearing your input on Rajeswari Karela Pulao. Thanks.

Karela Pulao
Karela Pulao with a Cup of Watermelon and Whited-out Yogurt

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Basmati Rice,Jaggery,Kakara Kaya(Bitter Gourd) (Tuesday September 11, 2007 at 5:02 pm- permalink)
Comments (27)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

27 comments for Bittergourd and Basmati (Karela Pulao) »

  1. hi indira, rather than placing a comment on ur dish 1st i would feel lucky to comment on this, you r just “wonderful”. i keep on trying ur dishes, everything comes well, all the credits to you.

    Comment by shruti — September 11, 2007 @ 5:26 pm

  2. Now I know exactly what I should include in my grocery list and what is going to be our dinner tomorrow :). Yummy!

    Comment by Lakshmi — September 11, 2007 @ 5:41 pm

  3. wow karela pulao , thats a very new and creative dish and I haven’t come across this anywhere. looks lovely and thanks for the recipe.

    Comment by prema — September 11, 2007 @ 6:49 pm

  4. I’ve been buying a lot of karela lately. Used to be you could only find the big Chinese kind readily – and the little Indian ones were only available at the Indian store. Now the little ones are everywhere – farmers markets, grocery stores, all over. I’ve been buying them weekly.

    I’ve been making them alternating your karela/jaggery recipe with a simple Bengli recipe with karela and potato. This looks like an exciting new addition.

    Comment by Diane — September 11, 2007 @ 7:03 pm

  5. “Life served on a plate”

    thats a really appropriate statement for this dish 🙂

    Comment by musical — September 11, 2007 @ 11:55 pm

  6. Hi Indira,
    New pulav that too with karela! Must give it a try.

    Comment by Vijaya — September 12, 2007 @ 1:18 am

  7. I must try… hopefully this will make S eat karela.

    Comment by Raaga — September 12, 2007 @ 1:57 am

  8. wow fantastic never thought of karela in pulao!

    Comment by roopa — September 12, 2007 @ 2:21 am

  9. Hello Indiragaaru,

    Excellent pulav that too with karela! Wow healthy and at the same time tasty!

    Vinayaka chavithi spl dishes gurunchi chepthara!


    Comment by Vijaya — September 12, 2007 @ 3:48 am

  10. What an interesting recipe Indira. I can almost imagine the flavors of the pulao. Must try this recipe.


    Comment by Mamatha — September 12, 2007 @ 4:47 am

  11. “Hot and sweet with bitter note, karela pulao tasted like life served on a plate.” – love this line and agree with the sentiment completely.. Big Karela fan here but don’t have too many karela recipes. Must try!

    Comment by archana — September 12, 2007 @ 8:38 am

  12. Hi,
    I am a frequent visitor of ur website.Wanted to ask a question unrelated to this recipe “where did u get the cheta for tamboolam which u posted for varalakshmivratam.Few people have asked u this question, I hope u will answer to this.Thanks

    Comment by Rani — September 12, 2007 @ 9:54 am

  13. I am one of those person who don’t like karela,……… but your rice dish with it looks nice.
    Now i want to ask you something.
    Is Chitrannam a Karnataka recipe. As you know there is a RCI event.
    Befire i make it i wanted to know if it really belongs to Karnataka as i thgt it was a tamilian dish.

    Comment by Happy Cook — September 12, 2007 @ 10:33 am

  14. Looks yummy Indira! Kakarakaaya is a favorite in our home. Even my kids love it. Usually after we make kaakarkaaya kura, we mix some rice in the leftovers in the pan (bandli) and eat muddalu 🙂 kaakarakaaya bandli annam. I make my kura similar to u’re mom’s 🙂 should try this version.

    Comment by Latha — September 12, 2007 @ 1:36 pm

  15. Indira edi too much I love kakarakaya kura with jaggaery,must try this next time for sure

    Comment by Sreelu — September 12, 2007 @ 3:06 pm

  16. It’s great to read your notes of interest in this recipe and I look forward to reading your input. Thanks!

    Rani: The cheta is from a local dollar store named Daiso.

    Comment by Indira — September 12, 2007 @ 7:18 pm

  17. Hi Indira,
    Tried this one for lunch today. Have to say, this is the first time I am ever bought karela! I couldn’t find ripe chillies so made do with dried ones so I dont know how it wud have tasted had I followed your instructions to the letter. But whatever resulted today was really nice! Hubby was surprised I had gone out to buy karela and USE it too!!
    Thank u! Pls thank your mum too!!

    Dear Desigirl,
    So glad to hear that you tried and liked this recipe. Thank you for taking time to let me know.
    – Indira

    Comment by Desigirl — September 16, 2007 @ 8:31 am

  18. Hi Indira,
    A non-food related question – how do you capture the snaps such that there’s a white background? And which camera?

    Comment by chitra — September 20, 2007 @ 8:59 am

  19. Hi Indira,

    Tried this recipe and loved it! I used green chillies as I didn’t have red chillies at hand. My husband who doesn’t like karela too liked it. Thanks for the recipe


    Comment by Mydhili — September 25, 2007 @ 4:41 pm

  20. Hai Indira,
    Prepared the Karela rice. Tasted delicious.
    U described the process as interesting, while the karela cooks in jaggery, Not only the process but tasting the mixture at that time is just right….the bitterness along with the sweet and the salt..fantastic….Do post such different and tasty dish.


    Comment by Padma — October 24, 2007 @ 6:19 pm

  21. Hi indira
    really very intresting recipe…..

    Comment by sugasini — January 11, 2008 @ 12:55 am

  22. can anyone tell me how to make rice cake or in telugu its caleed dibba roti

    Comment by shivani — March 7, 2008 @ 4:33 am

  23. Hi Indira,

    Your website is really beautiful. I am new to blogging and I am learning a lot looking at your blog. Karela Pulao truly a wonderful idea. Thanks for all the work you put in.

    Comment by — April 17, 2008 @ 10:47 am

  24. Hi,
    I never tried this recipe. It looks delicious. I will try soon. Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Zian — April 2, 2009 @ 11:21 am

  25. Delicious Indira, and completely unexpected. Who would ever think of karela in pulav? The recipe is beautifully written, love the line about how this recipe describes your mother!

    Comment by Pratibha Jain — May 30, 2012 @ 9:11 am

  26. Delicious Indira, and completely unexpected. Who would ever think of karela in pulav? The recipe is beautifully written, love the line about how this recipe describes your mother!

    Comment by Pratibha Jain — May 30, 2012 @ 9:11 am

  27. Wow, I am looking forward to trying this out. My mom makes excellent Kaakarkaya pulsu which uses jaggery but is still very spicy!

    Comment by Ahalya — June 6, 2012 @ 3:28 am

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