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Stuffed Roasted Karela

a plate of food

Photo: James Lenhart / Contributor 

A common staple in my kitchen — and one I have been trying to bring attention to for years — is the incredible bitter melon, aka karela.

For the most part, folks hear the word “bitter” and shy away. I understand. For years as a kid, I did, too. In fact, I have memories of sitting at the dinner table trying to eat it with tears streaming down my eyes as my parents lectured me on why it was a necessary part of our diet. As an adult, I have come to love it, not just for its tremendous capacity to cleanse our blood sugar and keeping our skin glowing but also for its flavor.

Karela holds up well to spices and pairs beautifully with naturally sweet vegetables such as butternut squash, sweet potato or corn. However, cooking it can be tricky if the bitterness is not balanced with a brine or a marinade. Don’t be afraid to use a generous amount of olive oil or another fat to bring out the flavor of this stuffed karela.

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