Indian · Maharashtrian · Vegetarian

Karlyachi Bhaji (sweet-tangy Bitter Gourd sabzi)

Bitter Gourd (karla in Marathi) is one of my favorite vegetables. I have always loved it since I was little, especially because of its bitter flavor. You can prepare this vegetable by boiling, steaming, frying, baking or roasting it. Today’s recipe, Karlyachi Bhaji, is prepared by boiling the bitter gourd. It’s a very simple and a tasty recipe with a combination of bitter-sweet-tangy tastes in every bite.


Serves: 6
Cooking time: 25 – 30 mins


5 bitter gourds (karela / karla)
¾ onion, large size, sliced
1½ tsp salt, or adjust as per taste
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp red chili powder, adjust per spice tolerance
½ tsp garam masala
2 inch piece of tamarind (imli / chincha)
4 tbsp jaggery
1 tbsp oil


1.  Wash the bitter gourd and scrape the rugged surface (skin) smooth using a peeler. Take the bitter gourd on a chopping board and chop off both the tips. Cut them lengthwise into halves. Deseed and cut into thin slices.
2.   Take the slices in a bowl and rub it with ½ tsp salt. Keep aside for 20 minutes. Then squeeze out the extra juice from the bitter gourd and rinse it under running water.
3.  Boil 5 cups of water in a large pot on medium heat. Add bitter gourd to the pot and cook for 5 mins or until bitter gourd is completely cooked. Drain water and keep bitter gourd aside.
4.  Soak tamarind in ½ cup of warm water in a bowl and keep aside for at least 20 mins. Then mash it with a spoon to break up the flesh and separate the seeds. Strain the water in a bowl and discard the solids. Keep the strained liquid aside for later use.
5.  Heat oil on medium heat in a pan. Add sliced onions and saute until they are cooked.
6.  Add bitter gourd to the pan, mix well and saute for 2 mins.
7.  Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, garam masala and 1 tsp salt. Mix everything together.
8. Add tamarind water and jaggery to the pan. Mix everything together. Cook until jaggery melts and water dries to a desired consistency to form a dry sabzi.

Serve hot with rotis.

spoonful O’ tips

1.  Kaarate Kismuri (Bitter Gourd Peel Salad) : After scraping (peeling) the bitter gourd surface(skin), do not discard it. Keep it aside. Later roast fry them which reduces the bitterness and the skins become crispy and more palatable. Use them in making Bitter Gourd Peel Salad.
2.  Rubbing salt on bitter gourd draws out the bitter juices from the slices and helps reducing bitterness.
3.  Bitter gourd juice : Do not discard the water in which the bitter gourd was cooked. It contains a lot of nutrition, so drain and store the water aside. Later add some honey or jaggery to it to reduce the bitterness, or add lemon juice and ginger. The juice is ready.
4. After cooking and draining water from bitter gourd, further squeezing the water out from bitter gourd reduces its harsh taste.


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