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Let’s face facts, however healthy karela or bitter gourd may be, not many fancy the taste of this Indian superfood. In fact, most of us cringed and cried whenever we were fed karela as a child. But today, as innumerable lifestyle diseases and disorders make us their prey, it’s time we realise the importance of a karela.

According to Shirin Kapadia, an independent nutritionist from Mumbai, it is one of the must-eat vegetables (superfoods), especially during the monsoons. She mentions that bitter gourd is a rich source of vitamin C (which helps boost immunity levels), iron, manganese, potassium, zinc, and folate. Adding to this, Amreen Shaikh, Dietician at Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai Central, says, “This vegetable is high on dietary fibre and improves digestion. Karela is also good for our eyesight since it has a good amount of beta-carotene in it.”

Now, cooking with karela requires a dedicated focus  to help reap the benefits of the monsoon superfood, here is a list of recipes to get you started.

Tawa Tarkari
For beginners, we’d suggest you start with Tawa Tarkari, which is a basically a mixed vegetable dish. Karela may not be the star veggie in this dish, but the recipe will at least help you understand its texture and taste.

Karela Palya
A no-onion-no-garlic recipe that hails from Udupi, the Karela Palya boasts of a basic tadka of urad dal, mustard seeds, curry leaves, and whole, dried red chillies. The dish also has tamarind and brown sugar as two of its key ingredients, which helps lessen the bitterness of the vegetable. 

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God’s Boat
A recipe by young Emanual Chauhan, God’s Boat is his attempt to help parents feed their kids some bitter gourd. The karelas in this dish come with a generous filling of chicken mince. Chauhan spikes his God’s Boat with flavours of ginger, chillies, and soya sauce. 

Karela Sabzi
A staunch believer of simple cooking, Gurdip Kohli Punj gives us an easy-to-make bitter gourd sabzi recipe that can be prepared in less than 30 minutes. What makes the dish interesting is that she finishes it with some peanut powder and grated coconut. 

Bharwan Karela
Another preparation from Punj’s kitchen, this one involves stuffing the karelas with grated potatoes and basic spices. Once stuffed, they are dipped in a besan batter seasoned with salt, red chilli powder and deep fried to perfection. She ends it by placing the fried veggies into a tomato-based gravy.  

Karela Wafers
Now, this single recipe has the potential to change your perception of karela. It involves sprinkling lemon juice, chaat masala, and salt over slices of bitter gourd, coating them in rice flour, and then frying the slices until they turn deep brown.

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