Karela is a vegetable which either a person loves or hates. There is no middle path to karela. The key to making a person like this vegetable is to prepare it right. The right blend of spices and the art of cooking always produce a dish which even the most averse person likes. Now I absolutely love karela and I love to make loads of it and store it in the fridge to eat with every meal.
Karela tastes best when made with raw mango. However, even dry mango powder or lemon juice can be used as a substitute. There is a saying in Hindi – Karela wo bhi neem chada. This implies a person who has an extremely sour and bitter personality on top of being ugly like the vegetable. But once prepared, karela is does not taste bitter at all. In fact, it has a delicate flavor that plays with the palate. It has a lot of medicinal uses also. Karela not only aids digestion but is also used in controlling diabetes. So do give this ugly looking vegetable a try before rejecting it for its looks.
250 gms karela
3-4 tbsp salt
1 raw mango (kairi)
2 tbsp dhaniya powder
1 tbsp red chilli powder
1 tbsp sauf
2 tsp haldi
½ tsp sugar
1 tbsp salt
Scrape all the karela lightly to remove the uneven covering just so. Some people prepare it without removing the covering also. Do not scrape off too much. Make a long cut along the length of karela. Apply salt inside out properly. Remove any hard seeds with your fingers. Leave it for 2-3 hours. Some people out it out in the sun but this makes karela shrivel. Best would be to leave it open in shade at room temperature. Wash the karela properly with water inside out to remove salt.
Steam the karela in cooker for one whistle to make them slightly tender. This will reduce the overall time of cooking and conserve energy too. Squeeze karela gently to drain out excess water without breaking it. Now the karela is ready to be stuffed.
For the stuffing, peel the raw mango. Grate it. Add dhaniya powder, red chilli powder, salt, haldi and sugar. Roast sauf and grind it. The salt added is less as the karela would already be salty. Add it to the mixture. Mix properly. The masala should taste a little strong for the stuffing and should not be too wet. Do not add oil to the masala as the water from grated mango is enough to hold it. You might add a little oil when using dry mango powder.
Stuff the karela. Bind the karela with a thread. Heat mustard oil and make sure to add a good quantity of it. When the oil starts smoking, put the karela in and cover the pot. Keep turning the karela at regular intervals till it is cooked. Turn off the gas and leave the karela in the leftover oil in the pot. The oil will be absorbed making karela soft.
Karela can be stored in the fridge for 3-4 days without going bad.
Tip: Get small sized karela for this recipe. Usually karela of not more than 5-7 inch size is best suited. The larger sized karela can be diced instead of stuffed and made using the same spices.