July 06, 2018
Karela, or the Indian bitter melon, is an acquired taste. Often rejected at first due to its harsh bitterness, but once tempered with sweet flavors like sweet potato, jaggery, corn or paneer, that same bitterness becomes just another delicious layer of flavor added.
serves 4 to 6
5 medium sized karela, around 4 inches long (approximately 1 pound)
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons cane sugar
1 tablespoon sea salt
5 tablespoons ghee, divided
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 cup minced red onion
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon chickpea flour
1 cup paneer grated (or any other cheese)
1 teaspoon minced serrano pepper
2 tablespoons ginger purée
Without cutting off the ends, peel the karela and make a lengthwise slit into each one. Scoop insides out and set aside. Drizzle karelas with lemon juice, sugar, and salt. Let this mixture rest for an hour or up to 24 hours. Finely mince the seeds from the inside and set aside.
Drain the karela, pat dry and drizzle 2 tablespoons of ghee over them. Lay on a baking sheet pan and roast in the oven at 350°F for 10 to 15 minutes or until the soft and cooked through. Remove the sheet pan from the oven and let the karelas rest.
Heat 3 tablespoons of ghee and pop the cumin seeds. Immediately, add the red onion and minced karela seeds. Cook this mixture on low heat until it reduces, the onion is translucent, and the seeds have softened. Add the black pepper, turmeric, and salt stir to combine. Next add the chickpea flour and continue cooking for 2 to 3 minutes until the flour darkens slightly. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Add grated paneer, minced serrano, and ginger purée. Adjust with salt to taste.
Fill each karela with the stuffing and place on a baking sheet. Roast in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes. Remove and serve them with a sweet chutney or a salad.
They are delicious topped with blackberry, peach or mango chutney.
December 02, 2022