Karela (Bitter gourd) & Onion Subzi Recipe

Karela or Bitter Gourd is exactly as the name suggests – bitter. Despite it’s bitterness and when made well, it is a very enjoyable dish. Karela is also known for it’s health benefits – good for liver, skin, cleanses blood amongst others. Enjoy our version with a dash of tartness and a hint of sweet, just enough to make you forget you are eating and enjoying Karela or Bitter Gourd!

Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Serves: 6 – 8


Bitter gourd / Karela – 2lbs (approx 1kg)
Onions – 4 small, sliced
Oil – 2 tbsp
Fennel Seeds – 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Fennel Seed Powder – 1 tbsp
Lime Juice – 2 tbsp
Sugar – 1 tbsp or to taste


1. Prep the Karela by washing, removing the seeds and cutting it.
2. In a large wok, heat the Oil on medium heat.
3. Add the Fennel Seeds and cook for 30 seconds and then add in Turmeric Powder and mix.
4. Add in the Onions and Salt and mix. Allow the Onions to brown and get a caramelized about 10-12 minutes. Stir frequently.
5. Add in the Bitter Gourd and a little more Salt, just for the Bitter Gourd. Mix.
6. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring in between.
7. Once the Karela has cooked, add Fennel Seed Powder, Lemon or Lime Juice and Sugar. Mix well.
8. Cook for another 5 minutes until all the flavors are mixed in well. Adjust seasoning if needed.
9. Serve hot with Chapatis, Rotis, Rice as a side dish.

1. Cut the Karela smaller if you prefer.
2. To reduce bitterness in the Karela:
– salt the cut Karela generously
– mix well and set aside for 15 min
– drain or squeeze out the liquid.

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0 thoughts on “Karela (Bitter gourd) & Onion Subzi Recipe

  1. Wow! Since I discivered your site a couple of weeks ago I can’t stop watching! It’s so comforting watching the two of you teach, just like I was in thr kitchen with my sisters.. i’m not Indian bUt I adore Indian food. In a couple os weeks I’m taking a vacation and I’m going to stay home and cook my way through your recipes!

  2. Hetal, Anuja:
    I came across your recipes by default—but struck a gold mine , it seems!
    You are both super!!!
    Keep up the good(great)work.

    1. Hi Bama,

      It is called a “green pan”…supposedly better for you and the environment than regular non-stick.

  3. Hi Hetal/Anuja,

    seeing for the 1st time Chinese karela.. hmm will try out..

    No need to add chilli powder? where does that spice come from?

    And also 1 question [May b silly :p] did u cut the onions into thin slices by hand or did u use any kitchen Gadget?

    Thank You

    1. Hi Swetha,

      You can add green chilies along with the onions or red chili powder with the other spices – if you want heat. We cut the onions by hand…we’re good like that 🙂

  4. Hi beautiful ladies, you both look so gorgeous specially ANUJA long hair suits you.Thank you so much for this recipe, subji looks great I am gonna try this today.I love to see you both everyday with a new recipe, thanks again.

  5. Thank you is a understatement to u guys …thanks again for an other amazing recipe…I want to know one one thing we are doing our best to take off all bitterness from karela does that mean their health benefits are also gone along with the bitterness …pls let me know…pls publish recipes more frequently …

    1. Hi Shobana,

      I’m guessing some of the health benefits are lost when we try to remove the bitterness, but its better than not being able to eat them at all because of the bitterness.

  6. A cracking recipe. I made it this weekend and the onions cooked slowly fuse really well with the fennel seeds. Excellent combination of flavours with the Karela. Thank you !!

  7. you could pressure cook karela with a little bit of tamarind … and vola!!!! all the bitterness is gone ….. not a bit left ….

    squeeze out the water and make a sabzi or deep fry and stuff it with carmelized onions (add chilli powder to make the stuffing mixture spicy)…. it will be yummy …

  8. hi

    my husband loves this curry. never tried with chinese. i will try this receipe too. do we have to remove the skin of this before cutting..thanks for this.

  9. Hmmm….life is full of surprises; my least 2 favourite foods are karela and onion! I’m not sure anything will persuade me to go near a karela 🙁

    It would be great to see more dry sabzi recipes that don’t involve onions, looking fwd to the next one.

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