Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Karela Nawabi (Bittergourd/melon in masala)

Bittergourd or bitter melon is, as I've said before, an acquired taste. I seem to have acquired it, being older and wiser and aware of this vegetable's medicinal and health properties. (Not to the extent of drinking raw bitter gourd juice, though!)

I'd been on the lookout for bittergourd recipes that did not involve deep-frying or otherwise using a lot of oil - which used to be the only way I could eat them - but were also not too bitter. Karela nawabi was a recipe that I found in Vasantha Moorthy's vegetable cookbook - I wasnt sure if I'd like it much, because the preparation was not one I'd come across before. Basically, she just said to dump the bitter gourd, onion and some basic spices (all raw) in one pan and pressure-cook it till done.

Since I was so doubtful of the outcome, I used only one of the two bittergourds I had bought - the other was held in reserve (to be tossed with gram flour and shallow fried... yeah I know, I was close to tarnishing my healthily virtuous halo there) in case the pressure-cooked version didnt work out to my taste.

In the event, the aroma that wafted out when I opened the pressure cooker was unbelievably savoury and wonderful, matched only by the taste. This, folks, is a KEEPER, and the recipe is so simple it's laughable.

As I had salted the bittergourds at the beginning and squeezed the worst of the bitterness from them, what was left in the cooked dish was just pleasantly bitter. I think I might make Karela Nawabi a lot more often. A thousand thanks to Vasantha Moorthy!

This is my entry for ARF/5-a-day #33 over at

Recipe for:
Karela Nawabi (bittergourd/melon in masala)


1 medium karela, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp chana dal (no, not chopped - heheh)
3/4 cup yogurt
1 tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp amchoor (dried mango powder)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp oil

For tempering:
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds, dry-toasted and powdered
1 tsp oil

Chopped coriander leaves for garnish


1. Sprinkle the chopped bittergourd with salt and 1/2 tsp amchoor powder and toss. Place in a colander with a heavy bowl on top, to let the bitter juices out. Let this sit for an hour or so.

2. After an hour, rinse the bittergourd under running cold water and let it drain.

3. Mix the bittergourd with all the ingredients (minus the tempering and garnish) in a steel vessel. Pressure-cook this for 3 whistles, then turn the heat off. Let the pressure reduce by itself, then open the cooker.

4. Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan and fry the fenugreek powder for 15 seconds, then add the cooked bittergourd masala to it. Stir well. Taste for salt (it shouldnt need much), let it bubble on low heat for 5 minutes.

5. Sprinkle with coriander leaves and serve hot with chapaties or naan.


archana said...

I loved the name of the dish, i can almost blurt out any of the following. 1) Meet Miss.Karela Nawabi, isn't she smart 2) Here is a toast to my aunt Karela Nawabi !!! That name is too human. Loved it !!!My husband just loves bittergourds. I like it too. Thank you for this recipe, our fridge is always well stocked up with bittergourds.

Anonymous said...

hahaha... Archana, I too thought it was more like a person's name :) The sort of name that a would-be movie star would take because her real name was something like Fatima. "Annnddd introducing the beautiful, talented, fascinating star of "Rasoi ki Rani" - Miss Karelaaaa Nawaaaaabiiiiiii..." :D

Menu Today said...

Hi Shammi,
Never tried this dish. Thanx for sharing.

Krithika said...

This one definitely is a keeper. I love karela and I have always stuffed it, shallow fried, deep fried it. Do you remove the seeds ? My husband hates them. Will try this and thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Krithika: No need to remove the seeds if the bittergourds are tender - but I did because the seeds in mine were red! :)

Anupama said...

Shammi, I always think that all people who eat bitter gourd are extremenly courageous. Hats off to you.

Vaishali said...

What did you do with the other bitter gourd? :)

Anonymous said...


Wow... this is the best karela dish, I have ever eaten. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Hi Shammi, this is a nice dish. tried it out today. the karela remained a little bitter so i added a tea spn of jaggery. The dish was real good! never thought there'd be a Nawabi dish for karela!
thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Have bookmarked a whole load of recipes from your blog and tried this out today. Living in Japan, and having to shell out an indecent amount of money for one single Karela, I had myself all twisted and crossed, hoping that the recipe would not let me down.
The verdict- It was great, will henceforth be part of my Karela repertoire!!!!

under_the neon sun