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Stuffed bitter melons or karela with masala in white plate.
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5 from 2 votes

Stuffed Bitter Melons (Karela)

Karela Stuffed With Tomatoes, Onions and Peanuts
Course: Side
Cuisine: Indian


  • 6 karelas (also called bitter gourds or bitter melons, and usually available in Indian and Asian grocery stores in the United States)
  • 2 medium-large tomatoes , diced
  • 1 large onion , minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon garlic paste
  • ½ teaspoon red chilli powder
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • cup peanuts , coarsely ground
  • 1 tablespoon grated jaggery (use sugar if you don't have this)
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon vegetable oil like canola
  • ¼ cup chopped coriander leaves


  • Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a skillet. Add the onions and fry until brown spots appear. Add the tomatoes, chilli, turmeric and coriander powders. Fry until the oil starts to separate.
  • Add the peanuts and jaggery and stir-fry until the jaggery's melted.
  • Add salt to taste, coriander leaves, then turn off the heat and set aside.
  • Prepare the karelas by lopping off the ends and making a vertical slit all the way down one side, taking care not to cut through. With your fingers or a melon baller, remove all of the thick, white seeds that run through the length of the vegetable. Discard the seeds.
  • Spray the karelas with some oil and place in a preheated 350-degree oven for 20 minutes or until they become a little tender but not cooked through.
  • When they are cool enough to handle, stuff each karela with the tomato-onion-peanut filling. (My mom, when she stuffed karelas, would tie a string around them to keep the filling from coming out, but I skip this step.)
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a cast-iron or non-stick skillet. Place the karelas, without overlapping, in the skillet and cook over medium-high heat, turning after each side becomes lightly golden-brown and is tender. To ensure the karela is well-cooked, pierce it with a knife. If the knife goes in without any resistance, it's pretty much ready to eat.
  • Enjoy hot with some plain old dal and rice.