Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Stuffed Bittergourd/Stuffed Karela Masala/Bharwan Karela masala/Stuffed Pavakkai

Even as a kid i had a “thing” for karelas.I liked them. Especially in Madurai we get a small variety called ‘mithi pavakkai/kuruvi thalai pavakkai’ that tasted nothing like bittergourd. My grandma used to make a simple stir fry that tasted delicious.
I would relish them every alternate day that my mom would ask me not to overeat (‘coz that would bring down the sugar level and also can bring some gastric problems if eaten regularly)!!!!We never got those baby karelas in Coimbatore and so while returning from vacation mum used to buy a kilo or two for me and dad and she would use it in instalments for rest of the week. Here in Chandigarh, i get fresh karelas from sabzi mandi every week and they are equally good. They aren’t over-sized just perfect for stuffing.It has been quite some time since i made these stuffed karelas.. I was making charred fries or stir fries to go with rice. Today suddenly it dawned upon me and immediately got into action else fearing i would give up the idea ‘coz of laziness.It turned out really well.
Karelas/bitter gourd small (10-15 cm long)-6
Onions-5 medium, finely chopped
Tomatoes-3 medium, finely chopped
Turmeric powder-1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder-1 & ½ tsp
Coriander powder-1 tsp
Garam masala powder-3/4 tsp
Kasuri methi-1 tsp
Salt-as needed
Oil-5 tbsp
Coriander leaves-1 tbsp, chopped
How it Happened:
1. Wash the karelas, pat dry them, scrap the outer skin a little using a peeler, slit them lengthwise once with a paring knife. Remove the seeds and flesh. Wash them in running water.Drain them and rub salt inside the cavity and on the karelas and set them aside for 15-30 minutes.
2. Heat 2 tbsp  oil in a kadai, add chopped onions and when they turn golden brown add tomatoes simmer the flame and cook covered for 5 minutes or until the tomatoes are completely cooked and mashed.
3. When the oil leaves the sides add turmeric powder, chilli powder, coriander powder and salt. Mix well and cook in simmer until the raw smell goes off.
4. Now add the crushed kasuri methi and garam masala. Mix well and cook for a minute.
5. Add chopped coriander leaves and switch off the flame. Allow it to cool.
6. Wash the karelas again in running water to remove the excess salt and pat dry them.
7. Once when the onion mixture is cooled, spoon in the mixture into the cavities of karela and tie them with a kitchen twine. Repeat the process and stuff all the karelas.
8. Add the remaining oil in a kadai and when its hot add the karelas and cook them covered in simmer for 5 minutes.
9. Remove the lid and slowly turn the karelas to other sides. Now add any remaining onion mixture and cook covered for 5-7 minutes.
10.Keep stirring slowly in between so that they don’t get burnt. Cook for another 5 minutes. Check whether the karelas are cooked by poking in a fork on a karela and if it goes in easily the karelas are done.
11. Switch off the flame and before serving remove the twine from all karelas and serve with rotis.

*Scrapping the karelas reduces the bitterness. Do not over peel, just remove the spikes. Similarly rubbing the salt also reduces the bitterness. But do not forget to wash else the dish will turn out to be salty.
*If you like you can add the seeds and flesh of the karela in the stuffing mixture for added texture but at times they turn out to be extremely bitter.
*If you want you can add ½ tsp of aamchur powder.
*You can add ½ tsp of sugar but as we are sugar- haters in spicy dishes i avoided that.
*Take care not to break the karelas while turning them.
* Tying the twine helps in holding the masala inside the karela.Make sure you remove the twine before serving.
*Cooking them covered and try to avoid adding water else the karela may turn mushy. When you cook them covered the condensed water on top of the lid is more than enough to cook the karela along with oil.

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