Karela Masala (Bittergourd Masala)

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There was a time when I would flatly refuse to taste a bitter gourd dish. What changed that? Let me take you back to those days, when our marriage was a year old. J got posted to Sikkim. I joined him. As our accommodation wasn’t set, we used to dine at the Officer’s mess. One day, some bitter gourd dish was served. As usual, I avoided it. When I heard everyone at the table saying how good the bitter gourd dish was and it lacked it’s natural bitterness, I was intrigued. I took a spoonful of the dish just to taste. Surprise !! It wasn’t bitter at all. I liked the dish so much that I had a generous helping of it. Soon after our meal, I went to the chef and asked how he prepared it. Though there was no precise measurement, he explained the method of preparation.
Needless to say, this is my one and only favourite bitter gourd recipe, so far.

Karela Masala (Bittergourd Masala)

A Bitter gourd dish wherein you'll find that the dish isn't bitter after all.
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 1 hr 35 mins
Servings 4 servings


For the Marination

  • 250 gms Sliced Bitter gourd
  • 1 heaped teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric powder
  • Oil for deep frying

For the Masala

  • 1 big Chopped onion
  • 1 big Chopped tomato
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ginger paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon Chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon Tamarind paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sugar (Optional)


  • Take the sliced bitter gourd in a bowl.
  • Add water and salt.
  • Keep aside for at least an hour. The more you keep, the better.
  • Drain the water and squeeze the bitter gourd.
  • Add chilli powder and turmeric powder and mix well.
  • Keep aside.
  • Dilute the tamarind paste in 2 tablespoon water. Keep aside.
  • Heat oil for deep frying.
  • When the oil is hot, fry the bitter gourd, in batches till they are crispy.
  • Drain onto an absorbent paper. Keep aside.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan.
  • Add the chopped onion and saute till light brown in colour.
  • Add the ginger-garlic pastes.
  • Saute till the raw smell goes.
  • Add the chilli powder and turmeric powder and stir for a few seconds.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and cook till oil separates.
  • Tip in the fried bitter gourd and mix well.
  • Add the tamarind paste, diluted with water, and cook for a minute.
  • Adjust the seasoning. You may add sugar if you wish.
  • Switch off heat and serve hot.
  • Goes well with Rice as well as Roti.

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