Category: Karela

Stuffed Karela ~ A 100 Year Old Recipe Pictorial

Stuffed Karela (Stuffed Kakarakaya)

Here is an offering, from my mother-in-law, that turns bitter karela into a bewitching morsel. As a new bride, she had learned this recipe from her mother-in-law at Nandyala half a century ago. Now, it’s my turn. I feel extremely privileged to learn first hand and share this centuries-old recipe tradition here on Mahanandi.

The ingredients and the cooking method are exactly as they were in the past. The only thing changed is the stuffing preparation. Earlier, they used to powder the ingredients in a mortar using a pestle. Now I use a Sumeet mixer.

In this recipe, the karela is subjected to steam cooking, stuffing and then sauteeing. The stuffing is ever desirable kobbari-pappula podi. Even children who would otherwise never touch a karela devour these tender karelas with a crisp outer shell and tasty stuffing. Stuffed karelas are excellent as a lunch or supper side dish, accompanied by daal, sambar or curd rice.

Stuffed Karela (Nimpina Kakara)

(Ingredients are for 6 karela. A steam-cooker and a wide, thick-bottomed skillet or pan are needed for preparation.)

Karelas – Young and fresh looking karelas, about hand or palm length are the best ones for this recipe. One or two karelas per person.

Stuffing – for 6 karelas, we need about half cup pappulu (dalia), quarter cup finely chopped dried coconut pieces, 6 Indian variety dried red chillies and half teaspoon each – cumin and salt. Take them in a mixer and grind to fine powder. Keep this stuffing in a cup on the side.

Then, follow the Karela pictorial.

Karela (Kakara Kaya)
Peel the Karela outer ridges lightly. Rinse under water.

Steam-cooked Karelas
Place a steam cooker on the stove-top. Fill the cooker to quarter with water. Add a teaspoon of salt to water. Place the karelas in a steam basket. Cover tightly with lid. Bring the water to boil and steam-cook the karelas to tender. Takes around five minutes. Pay attention to the process and do not overcook the karelas to mush. Remove the basket and let the karelas cool.

Seeds scooped out, steam-cooked karela ready for stuffing
With a sharp knife, cut karela lengthwise, keeping the ends intact like shown in the photo above. Scoop out the seeds and keep them in a cup. Prepare all of them this way and line them up for stuffing.

Karelas filled with stuffing
Fill the karela shell with stuffing. Add about a tablespoon of powder to each one, and spread along the length.

Threading the stuffed karelas
Bring the cut edges together and run a thread around the stuffed karela. Tuck the thread edges underneath a round. Karela will hold the shape and would remain closed during sautéing. There is really no need for tying the knot or needle threading.

Sauteeing the steam-cooked karelas and karela seeds
Place a wide pan on stove-top. Add and heat a tablespoon of peanut oil. Place the stuffed and threaded karelas in a single row. Also, on the sides, add the seeds removed from karelas. On medium-low heat, sauté karelas to golden, turning frequently. Take care not to blacken or burn them. The seeds also get grilled to crisp.

Stuffed Karela (Kakarakaaya) with Crisp and Crunchy Karela Seeds ~ Meal Today
Place the sautéed karelas in a serving dish after removing the thread. Sprinkle few tablespoons of remaining stuffing powder and also roasted karela seeds. Serve warm with rice, daal/sambar or yogurt rice.

© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.
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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

Saucy Karela with Chapati and Sprouted Mung Beans
Saucy Karela with Chapati and Sprouted Mung beans ~ Meal Today

Karela = Bitter Gourd, Indian variety


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