Gutti Kakarakaya aka Stuffed Bitter gourd (Karela) is a simple dish and my favorite go-to recipe for special occasions. The roasting process intensifies the flavor of the stuffing while charring and softening the bitter gourds. The unmistakable bitterness of kakarakaya is balanced with the spiced, tangy-sweet stuffing comprising of onions, garlic, jaggery, tamarind and red chilies.
A much cherished and relished vegetable in our home is bitter gourd. A favorite of mine is today’s bitter gourd pickle with a sweet flavor that happens to be one of Amma’s specialty dishes. What makes it palate pleasing is the addition of jaggery and tamarind combined with a tempering of curry leaves and dals that add for a bit of crunch. Sweet, sour and tangy flavors that are enticing and addictive.
High on the nutritive quotient, Karela, is a vegetable that is available all year round at our local farmer’s market and a regular at our home. Few takers for this knobbly, humble, bitter tasting vegetable. But the few who chose to go beyond the outward appearance and bitter flavor, were won for life once they savored its true taste, appreciating it health enhancing benefits.
Even a Karela hater will love this recipe. Today, the spotlight is on Tarla Dalal’s winning recipe. She used the simplest of ingredients to bring out a splendid mix of flavors and texture, far beyond what I had expected. The addition of roasted cashews and sesame seeds gave a crunchy, nutty touch to the spice-tinged, jaggery flavored crispy bittergourd. Made it twice already, within a span of a few weeks, its just that good.
Bitter gourd is the least preferred vegetable among many. But the benefits of Karela should be taken advantage of and if cooked in right manner bitter gourd is really tasty. Bittergourd is highly recommended for diabetics.