3.5/5 rating (102 votes)

Punjabi Style Stuffed Karela

Stuffed Bitter Gourd

  • Heat Medium
  • Serves 6
  • Prep 20 mins
  • Cook 40 mins
Punjabi Style Stuffed Karela

Karela stuffed with a spiced tangy onion mix.

Hari says

This is one amazing vegetable. Thing is, it’s been lumbered with the name 'bitter gourd' which is a turn-off for most people straight away. Yes, it does have an acquired taste. But when it's cooked in the traditional Punjabi style the bitterness is balanced with the spiced, tangy onion stuffing and the crisp, crunchy texture of the toasted gourd seeds. That and the the soft flesh of the vegetable makes a lovely combination.

For the real hard core Indian food fanatics out there, try this dish with roti and a red lentil dhal to really push your taste boundaries.

As a kid I hated these things (I said, it’s a taste you grow into) but I think that had more to do with the fact that my dad would continuously tease us and say he was eating stuffed mice, which is exactly what they looked like when I was five!

This vegetable was incredible difficult to come by back then so there was always a real excitement in the house when my mum cooked them. Today, gourds are available in supermarkets and Indian grocers so do give them a go!

  • Ingredients
  • Method
  • 6 bitter gourds (karela)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp mustard oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 cm piece ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 chillies, chopped
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp amchoor 
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds,crushed
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed


  1. Prepare the karela by washing and drying them then using a peeler peel off the bumpy green skin and keep in a bowl.
  2. Slice open the tummy of each karela without going all the way through and scrape out the inside including the seeds using a teaspoon into the same bowl. This will make the stuffing.
  3. Heat mustard oil in a cast iron pan and add the cumin seeds, as these sizzle and become fragrant stir in the onions and fry until translucent
  4. Add the ginger and garlic and then the stuffing. Fry until the onions are golden brown (5-10 minutes). This is very important as the seeds will crisp up.
  5. Once browned stir in the amchoor, fennel, coriander, chilli, salt and turmeric. Fry for a few seconds and remove from the heat.
  6. Once cooled use a spoon or your hands and stuff the skins with equal amounts of the mixture. Hands are better as you will also cover the outside with the juices and oils from the stuffing as well. 
  7. Press the stuffing into the skins. You can use a little cotton thread to wrap around each one to help hold their stuffing in.
  8. To cook the Karela you can either fry them or bake them. So either place the karela back into the pan with a little oil and cook them evenly until they turn a golden brown colour all over. Or place onto an oven tray and cook in the oven for 30 minutes until soft and browned all over. These are delicious served with a red lentil dhal, plain yoghurt and roti. Once cooked the karela will keep refrigerated for up to a week.

Nutritional information

Typical values* per Serving
Fat (g)8
of which saturates (g)1
Carbohydrates (g)11
of which sugars (g)5
Fibre (g)4
Protein (g)2
Salt (mg)392
*Based upon calculated values, supplied by myfitnesspal.com. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated.

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