Khatta Meetha Karela (Bitter Gourd) Sabzi / Veg

Khatta Meetha Karela (Bitter Gourd) Sabzi / Veg

Bitter Gourd Fans Anyone? Well, I am crazy for them. Surprised? I adore bitter dishes, rather anything bitter actually. I was a sick child until my teens, with low immunity levels and hence had to pop a lot of pills every now and then. As a child, my Mom used to crush the tablets with sugar and make a syrup sort of a thing for me to gulp it down. So, there began my first experience with bitter foods and then of course Bitter Gourd was incomparable to the tasteless bitter medicines that I had as a child. There was one major learning – Add a bit of sugar to bitter foods, they taste awesome! Lolz!

This recipe belongs to a dear MBA college mate, Tanvi Patel’s Mom. Since I was always fond of cooking, asking recipes as soon as tasting things I love, was primary of sorts. I liked cooking on weekends and trying a hand at baking cakes etc and sharing it with my friends or colleagues at work and school even then. One of the days when we were strugging with projects post classes, it was lunch time and like a good girl that Tanvi is, she brought home cooked food and her dabba or tiffin box was always wiped clean by others more than herself. She never complained and ate the canteen food we bought in exchange for the lovely food. The first time I tasted this, I loved it immediately with the bitter and sugar combo, much like our Pavakkai Pithla (South Indian Style Curry  Gravy with Bitter Gourd in a Coconut Gravy, spices and tamarind paste where jaggery is added in the end to reduce the bitterness) that is often eaten with steamed rice and some dry veggie on the side. Rotis that Tanvi had got along with these were wiped clean before a blink of an eye and I was surprised to see all the haters turning into bitter gourd lovers. That very moment, the recipe was jotted down by me and ever since, I have been cooking Bitter Gourds in a similar way and each time I fall in love with Bitter Gourd slightly more.

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Even though I have restrained on the oil and the sugar part, the taste is very similar to what I had back then. So, post Vishu, our New Year, there were a lot of Karelas or Bitter Gourd at home as they form a part of the Kani Decoration, I thought of making this the next day for lunch box. Some Whole Wheat Phulkas and Dahi, this is the best summer detox for the body. In fact, I always keep extra for the next day to make grilled sandwiches with karela filling. Sounds crazy? Do try and know what I mean! I dare ya! Tip – Love Cheese, throw in a slice too and see the magic. If you do, please let me know how you liked my crazy idea of a Karela Sandwich.

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Check out the easy recipe and try some today.

Recipe for Khatta Meetha Karela Sabzi Veg (Sweet and Tangy Bitter Gourd Vegetable)

Prep Time – 15 minutes

Cook Time – 20 to 30 minutes

Serves 3


  1. Bitter gourd – 4 medium sized finely chopped after removing the seeds
  2. Tomatoes – 2 big or 4 small (to be pureed)
  3. Onions – 2 big or 4 small (finely chopped)
  4. Jeera – 1 tsp
  5. Chilly powder – 1 tsp
  6. Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
  7. Oil – 2 tblps
  8. Jaggery – 2 tsps
  9. Salt – as per taste


  1. Heat a kadhai or a non-stick, add 1 tblsp of oil and saute the bitter gourd on a low flame until it turns slightly brown.
  2. If you are not worried about calories, go ahead and deep fry the same. It will taste really good.
  3. However, I choose to saute over low flame and keep mixing it at regular intervals to ensure even cooking and browning.
  4. Do not add any water nor cover the pan for cooking this.
  5. Once the bitter gourd is cooked, remove it from the pan and keep it aside.
  6. Now in the same kadhai, add 1 tblsp of oil, jeera and the finely chopped onions.
  7. Saute the onions until they are translucent.
  8. Then add the puree of tomatoes, turmeric powder, chilly powder & cook the mixture well on low heat.
  9. Once the gravy is cooked (indicated by thickening of mixture and the oil on the sides of the pan), add the jaggery.
  10. The gravy will turn slightly glossy due to the caramelization effect.
  11. Add the pre-cooked karela or bitter gourd to this mixture, stir well, add salt & some coriander leaves.
  12. Allow it to cook for 5 odd minutes before you switch off the flame.
  13. Serve hot with parathas or rotis or kadhi chawal.

Recipe Notes –

  • If you own an Air fryer, you can cook the karelas in the same too with even less oil.
  • Many folks who don’t like Bitter Gourd or wish to reduce the bitterness, opt for soaking the finely chopped pieces into a bowl of salted water for 30 odd minutes and then draining the water, rinsing and ready to use. I skip the process entirely as I prefer the bitterness and also, I don’t prefer excess salt in food.
  • Don’t wish to finely chop the bitter gourd and do circles, go ahead.

Vidya Narayan

70 thoughts on “Khatta Meetha Karela (Bitter Gourd) Sabzi / Veg

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    1. Yes I prefer the crispy ones too dear but sadly it involves a lot more oil which I avoid. Glad to know the wadas worked well and you loved it. Thank you for sharing your feedback.

    1. Shobhaji, nice to know we share the same feeling about Karela. Yes, variation in anything helps esp for the foodie husbands we have both been blessed with. haha.

  1. WoW I love karela too, Very beautifully narrated and excellent share Vidya.
    Using tomato in karela is another beautiful idea of giving tartness to the dish, we used amchoor powder in it .. simply awesome share..

    1. Jolly, I love Bharwan Karela too and I have to find time to blog that soon. That recipe uses amchoor for the khattas. Glad you liked the post and the dish.

    1. I understand, many people are not fond of it but fortunately, I am very fond of this since childhood and glad my husband too shares the same thought.

  2. I don’t like bitter gourd a bit but my mommy dear used to make us have this veggi once in a day in summers by hook or by crook, but this recipe of yours sounds interesting maybe I am becoming mature now 😉 have to try this once.

    1. Bitter Gourds during summers are a great way to detox dear and I try to make something out of it once in a week for sure. I think you will like it, give it a shot!

  3. Just need some rotis to relish this fingerlicking karela sabzi. I have tried varieties of dishes with bittergourd and this simple sabzi didnt struck me until i saw your post in Fb. Lovely share Vidya, simply delicious.

  4. Vidya, I like the idea of stir frying it in a little oil as opposed to the deep frying. Great recipe. Someone had made a deep fried one and then had all dry fruit in it etc.. with the jaggery syrup- of course it tasted good but that karela taste was lost, not to mention the calories 🙂

    1. This sabzi can be made more sweeter and with an extra dose of oil but it compromises the taste of bitter gourds as you rightly put. This method, though takes time, ensures the nutrients are not lost and neither does the slight bitterness of the karela. Thanks dear.

  5. I have only cooked bitter gourd once, they looked irresistable. I can say it didn’t come out anything as nice sounding as your dish! I will give it a go next time I find them in the shop! 🙂

  6. We usually eat bitter gourd in variations in starting of lunch. Made it with tomatoes and onions but never used jaggery. Next time I will make it with jaggery. Thanks for the idea. This looks super tempting.

    1. The recipe belongs to a Gujarati Friend of mine and they add jaggery or sugar in some of their veg preps. Its thanks to her Mom, the recipe made it to the blog. Thanks so much.

  7. Like this sweet and sour karela recipe – a great way to consume karela. You have made eating karelas interesting

    1. Oh cheese will go really well with this and it will be a hit with kids. Go ahead and if the dare works, let me know, will dare at my end too.. haha.. thank you my dear.

  8. As soon as I read the title, maine socha ho na ho ye Gujju recipe hai, and then read the post..yes It is from Gujju family 🙂 Just like you, my son and my sister love karela sabji, they won’t even need roti with it. Jaggery and sour agents make karela interesting, we eat with Gujju daal, rice and rotli.

    1. Haha.. Aapne sahi pakda bilkul. Glad you loved it and I love all gujju recipes because I love jaggery in food much like Keralite cuisine, even though we don’t make many sweet savoury dishes but we do have a touch of jaggery in our sambar and rasam to reduce the acidity from tamarind. The Dal, rotli and sabzi combo is excellent. Thank you so much dear.

  9. My husband and I are crazy karela fans too, Vidya 😊 In fact we love most bitter foods – black coffee, tonic water, dark chocolate, spinach, broccoli.
    I agree, Karela sabzi with plain roti and some dahi makes the best light summer meal ever!
    I love the idea of adding just enough jaggery to compliment the bitterness not eliminate it, since bitter and sweet are two natural and complementary opposites in life. 😊
    We usually add lots of onions and a squeeze of lemon to achieve that effect but your way sounds much easier. Will try it soon!

    1. You guys sound just like us. Yay and super glad your thoughts on retaining the bitterness matches mine. What is the point in eliminating a taste that nature has gifted it for a purpose, right? I have to try your onion and lemon method too someday, would be a good change. Thanks for the suggestion and as always, pleasure to receive your response to the post. Cheers my dear.

  10. I am a big fan and crazy about Butter Gourd. actually I am going post soon one of my recipe. Today I learned one more new method of cooking Bitter Gourd, Thank you for that:)

    1. I will wait for your recipe as I love Bitter Gourds too, just like you. Thanks dear, learning from each other leads to discovery of new flavours and I love your vegan meal ideas.

  11. I am crazy about bitter gourds and cannot fathom why people cannot like them. 😉 I also make a similar sabzi to this and I think the jaggery enhances the bitter flavour by contrast which I love.

  12. I’ve been a bit selfish though hubby does not complain at all, I don’t make karela sabji at all. I don’t like it but he does. Poor thing waits till we visit India and then my mother in law or sister in law will make it for him. Your recipe is likable as its got both onion and tomatoes. Perhaps should give hubby a surprise next week???

    1. ha ha .. seriously? I thought being a Gujju, you would love this sabzi. I think your husband deserves a surprise pls and I would be glad if you try this recipe for him. Would be a pleasure dear. Thank you so much.

    1. I like the mangoes and Karela version too but since its pretty tangy, we restrict making it to few occasions as me and husband don’t prefer too much tamarind or raw mango in dishes. Thanks dear.

  13. I love karela in all forms and love making it in summers. In fact, I always add raw mango in Kerala to balance the bitterness but never added jaggery as the family doesn’t prefer sweet in savory dishes. Let me try it for myself.

  14. Yes, I’m a karela fan. Whole summer season, my fridge has karelas in it. i make them in Punjabi way only…bharwan and kachri. Must make it today only to have a variation. I’m sure I’ll love this too as I’m fond of sweet and sour taste

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