Karela nu Shaak
Karela (biiter melons) are usually available during mango season (April to July) in Gujarat. Here in US they are available all year around. This shaak is especially eaten with mango pulp. Both works well together as karela are bitter and mango pulp is sweet. Not all people like this shaak but once you get used to bitterness it is very delicious. It is very enjoyable with warm Rotli(puffed flat bread).
- 1 lb. karela (bitter melon)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
- ⅛ teaspoon asafetida
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 2 teaspoons dhana-jeeru (spice blend of coriander and cumin powder)
- 3 tablespoons golden raisins
- 3 tablespoons cashew bits
- 3 teaspoons sugar or to taste
- 1 golf ball size jaggery piece, cut into smaller pieces
- Wash karela. If karela are fresh and skin does not have any blemishes keep the skin otherwise remove the rough part. Remove ⅛ inch of karela from both ends. Cut bigger karela in half, again cut karela in half and slice into three to four slices. Remove tough seeds while cutting karela. Karela are extremely bitter. If you wish to remove some bitterness, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt and let it drain in a colander for ½ an hour. Skip salt later in recipe.
- In a wok or a frying pan, heat oil on medium high heat, about 2 minutes. Add mustard seeds and let them sizzle, 30 to 40 seconds. Lower the heat to medium. Add turmeric, chili powder and asafetida. Add karela, season with salt and stir everything well. Cover and let karela cook for 10-12 minutes or until karela are tender, stirring occasionally.
- Once karela are cooked, add rest of ingredients. Stir everything and let it cook uncovered on low heat until sugar and jaggery is melted and karela looks dry, about 7 to 10 minutes. Karela should be covered in caramel to reduce bitterness. Golden raisins help in reducing bitterness and use of more sugar. Check seasoning and add salt if needed. Serve warm with any type of Indian flat bread.