Saucy Karela (Kakara Pulusu)

“Everyone says I am bitter…,” Karela catchingly said in a low voice.

“What would you like to be if there is a makeover?”

“I want to be saucy with an attitude.”

“Well, that’s easy. Let’s invite jaggery and tamarind. Our friend red chilli will also be there. How does that sound?”

“Sweet and sour with a spicy-saucy attitude. Yum… I like that. My bitter blues are over. :)
Thank you.”

“You are welcome karela.”

Karela, Jaggery and Tamarind
Karela, Jaggery and Tamarind

Saucy Karela (Kakara Pulusu)
(makes a side dish for two meals for two adults)

4 to 6-inch length karela – 5
Tamarind pods – 4
Jaggery, crushed – 2 tablespoons to quarter cup
Red onion – 1 medium size, or shallots 2 big ones
Oil, cumin, mustard seeds, curry leaves, turmeric, chilli powder and salt

Soak tamarind in water for about 15 minutes and extract thick pulp (about quarter cup needed for this recipe).
Scrape karela ridges with a peeler. Wash and cut karela into small, bite-sized pieces (about 2 cups of cut pieces).
Slice onion into thin pieces (about half cup pieces).

Place a thick-bottomed skillet on stovetop. Add a tablespoon of peanut oil and heat. When oil is hot, add 6 curry leaves, a pinch each-cumin and mustard seeds. Mix with spoon and when seeds start to pop, add onion. Sauté onion for couple of minutes to soft. Add karela pieces and quarter cup of water. Cover the skillet tightly, and steam-cook karela.

Halfway through the cooking, add tamarind and jaggery. Also add half teaspoon each – turmeric, salt and chilli powder. Mix, and cover the skillet with lid again. On medium-low heat, cook until karela pieces become tender, and tamarind-jaggery sauce thickens and start to coat the karela pieces.

Saucy karela tastes sweet and sour with a touch of spicy-bitterness. Great with sorghum roti or chapatis.

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari

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Karela = Bitter Gourd, Indian variety

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