Monday, March 7, 2011

Kaakarakaya Pulusu (Tangy Bitter Gourd Curry)

Here is a recipe of saucy karela which tastes sweet and sour with a touch of spicy-bitterness. This I learnt from my neighbor in Hyderabad.

The curry is prepared from the karela (bitter gourd) which has just started turning yellow. At this stage fruit’s flesh is still crunchy and watery in texture but more bitter than green one.

It goes well with Roti or Rice.


  • 2 yellow Karela (yellow bitter gourd)
  • 1 large onion chopped fine
  • 2 green chilies chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • Small marble-sized lump of tamarind (according to taste)
  • 1 tbsp gud (jaggery)
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 whole red chilies
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • 1tsp skinned split black gram
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp oil


  • Peel and deseed the bitter gourd (scoop out the seeds with a spoon) and cut into small pieces (about half inch).
  • Mix 1 tsp salt to chopped karela and keep aside for 30 minutes.
  • Soak tamarind in a small bowl of warm water for 15 minutes. Squeeze the tamarind after that so as to remove all the pulp from it into the water. Strain and throw away the pith. Keep the tamarind pulp aside for later use.
  • Take 2 tbsp oil in a pan and heat it on a medium flame. When the oil becomes hot add black mustard seeds; and when spluttering stops, add cumin seeds and urad dal.
  • When the seeds become dark, add whole red chilies, curry leaves, chopped green chilies and chopped onion; fry till onion is light brown.
  • Add ginger and garlic paste. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
  • Squeeze away the water from karela by pressing between the palms and put them in the pan. Add turmeric powder and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add one cup of water and cook covered on low flame. Halfway through the cooking, add red chili powder and tamarind pulp. Simmer for a minute. Add jaggery and cover the pan with lid again and simmer on medium-low heat till karela pieces become tender and tamarind-jaggery sauce thickens.
  • Adjust salt and garnish with coriander leaves.
  • Serve with Roti or Rice.

Do You Know?

Bitter gourd contains lectin (sugar binding proteins) that has insulin-like activity due to its non-protein-specific linking together to insulin receptors. This lectin lowers blood glucose concentrations by acting on peripheral tissues and, similar to insulin's effects in the brain, suppressing appetite. This lectin is likely a major contributor to the hypoglycemic ( it is the medical term for a state produced by a lower than normal level of blood glucose) effect that develops after eating bitter gourd.

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