Karela Pyaz: Bitter Gourd Onion Fry

21 Feb

Bitter gourd onion fry – a great way to eat bitter gourd if you aren’t a fan of its taste. Combining it with onions is one of the most effective ways of reducing the bitterness of bitter gourd.

Well, this recipe is also a side effect of onion prices diving down this season – my no-onion spree is on a break, my kitchen is stacked with onions and I am adding the bulb copiously to any vegetable dish I make nowadays.

On to the recipe of bitter gourd onion fry…

You Need:

  • Bitter gourd – 2 (300 grams)
  • Onions – 4 medium (300 grams)
  • Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
  • Green chilies – 2
  • Jaggery – 1/2 teaspoon (optional)
  • Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
  • Coriander powder – 2 tsp
  • Salt – to taste
  • Oil – 1 tablespoon

Bitter Gourd, Onions, Green Chilies, Spices

How To Make Bitter Gourd Onion Fry:

Scrape and slice the bitter gourd into thin disks.

Bitter Gourd Rings

Salt the slices, let them stand and squeeze to reduce the bitterness of bitter gourd.

Peel and slice the onions into rings.

Onion Slices

[That knife above is my beloved new kitchen tool, by the way – a Joseph Joseph serrated knife.]

Chop the green chili.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a kadhai or thick-bottomed pan. Add cumin seeds.

Cumin Seeds in Hot Oil

When cumin seeds have spluttered, add turmeric powder and coriander powder to hot oil and immediately add the vegetables: bitter gourd disks, onion slices, chopped green chilies.

Bitter Gourd Onion Fry, Cooking 1

Mix the vegetables well with the spiced oil. Cook covered on low heat, stirring every few minutes for even cooking.

As karela pyaz cooks, the onions caramelize slowly and the bitter gourd disks shrink and soften. This is how it looks at 8-minute intervals, after about 30 minutes of slow cooking:

Bitter Gourd Onion Fry - Stages of Cooking

Check and add salt only if needed: remember that salting the bitter gourd before cooking means you probably don’t need to add more at this stage.

Keep cooking till the bitter gourd is done (on low heat, this takes 30-40 minutes). Then set the heat to high to let the moisture evaporate, stirring continuously. Sprinkle some jaggery (if using) and mix till the jaggery has dissolved and blended into the dish.

Bitter gourd onion fry is ready to serve.

Bitter Gourd Onion Fry, Ready To Serve

Meal below: tomato toor dal, chapatis with bitter gourd onion fry:

Bitter Gourd Onion Fry, Tomato Toor Dal, Chapatis

Bitter gourd onion fry also pairs well with parathas, potato curry and fresh homemade yogurt.


[1] How to check for fresh young bitter gourd: The gourd should be firm to touch and the surface should be deep green. When sliced, the flesh and seeds should be white, not yellow or brown. The seeds should be small and tender.

[2] If you scrape the bitter gourd surface before slicing, you won’t need to bother that much about cleaning. If you want to retain the skin, you might have to wash the bumpy surface really well before slicing.

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