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:

Bitter Gourd Chips (Karela Fries)

Bitter gourd - Indian variety (Karela, Kakara kaya)

A perfect side snack, karela chips are crunchy, slightly bitter and spicy. A very different taste compared to potato chips but equally irresistible as an accompaniment to the regular meal of rice and dal.

I usually make them, slowly sauteing in a big pan for half an hour like that, until they turn crispy. Back in Nandyala, deep-frying the thinly sliced rounds of karela is the norm. Thanks to Kay and her recipe, I found a very easy way to make the karela chips without compromising the taste. Baking and broiling. Method is easy and the taste is superb.

karela slices going into the oven


I followed kay’s recipe.
Washed 3 bitter gourds (Karela – Indian variety). Using a mandoline, sliced thin rounds. That’s easy. chuk..chuk.chuk.. Plateful of karela rounds. Tossed them in two teaspoons of peanut oil and sprinkled red chilli-garlic powder, salt, turmeric to my taste (1/2 tsp each). More tossing. Kept them for 15 minutes like that so that karela rounds can absorb the seasonings.
Arranged them neatly in rows, on a foil covered baking tray. Then baked them in a pre heated oven at 375° F for about 10 minutes, another 5 minutes under broil setting to make them extra crispy. I had to watch them closely during the broiling. They turn from crispy to black very fast, I didn’t want that. Total 15 minutes in the oven – the result was crunchy karela chips.

Thanks Kay for this wonderful recipe. Fabulous results without much sweat – Vijay and I both liked them very much.

karela (Bitter Gourd) Chips
Bitter gourd (Karela) Chips.

Karela (Kakara Kaya, Bitter Gourd) Chips with Rice and Sambhar

Karela chips with okra sambhar & rice

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Kakara Kaya(Bitter Gourd) (Tuesday January 3, 2006 at 12:50 pm- permalink)
Comments (35)

The New Home of Mahanandi:

Bitter Gourd Curry (Karela/Kakara Kaaya Kura)

Bitter gourds, true to their name, are bitter and just like any bitter, sour things, they are an acquired taste. My mother’s recipe pairs the bitter gourd with jaggery and red chilli powder; the result is a sweet and sour, lip smacking good, bitter gourd curry. She made it impossible for us kids to hate this vegetable, really, who can resist a sweet and sour combination paired with hot, hot rice and ghee. Clever woman, she is.

Indian Bitter Gourd, Karela, kaakara kaaya

4 to 6 fresh, good looking Indian variety bitter gourds (karela, kakara kaya)
( This recipe works only with karela, not good with chinese bittergourds. To know the difference, check the link)
½ to 1 cup powdered jaggery
½ tsp of red chilli powder
½ tsp of salt
A pinch or ¼ tsp of turmeric
For popu or tadka
½ tsp of mustard seeds, cumin and few curry leaves

karela pieces, jaggery and red chilli powder

Wash the bitter gourds (karela) and peel the outer rugged skin of each one. Cut into half. If you see white, kind of dried out seeds, they are good for consumption, proceed and cut them into bite sized pieces, including the seeds (They taste nutty and crunchy, add them as whole or cut them into pieces). If you see red colored seeds, the gourd is very mature and tastes impossibly bitter, so it is better to throw the whole thing away.

In a pan, heat one teaspoon of oil, splutter the mustard seeds, cumin and curry leaves. Add the cut bitter gourd pieces. Cover and cook them in their own moisture for about 5 to 8 minutes or until they are tender to touch. When you are sure that the pieces are tender, then only add the powdered jaggery, salt, turmeric, red chilli powder and one tablespoon of water. (Jaggery prevents further cooking of vegetable, so make sure the pieces are tender before adding jaggery.)

Mix them up thoroughly, cover and let them cook for about another 10 to 15 minutes on medium-low heat. In between sprinkle some water, taste and adjust the seasoning, add more jaggery if you think it’s needed. Jaggery melts and coats the bitter gourd pieces and ten minutes of simmering turns the melted jaggery into a gooey, thick, brown caramel like sauce.

Serve this gold colored, sweetly bitter, delicious curry with hot rice and some ghee.

Indian Bitter Gourd (Karela, kaakara kaaya) Curry

Bitter Gourd (karela, Kaakara kaaya) Curry.

Recipe Source: Amma

You can also find different and more recipes with bitter gourd (karela) by other fabulous Indian food bloggers –Manisha and Gini.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Jaggery,Kakara Kaya(Bitter Gourd) (Thursday October 27, 2005 at 7:09 pm- permalink)
Comments (26)

The New Home of Mahanandi: