Secret Ingredient: Karela (Bitter Melon)

A few months ago I was at the Patel Brothers grocery store in Jackson heights and I saw these unusual looking vegetables. I wasn’t sure what they were, but I always kept them in the back of my mind as something I’d like to try out. Recently I was on an Indian food kick and I went back up there to go shopping, and when I bought these I made sure I wrote down their name: karela, also known as bitter melon. I should have recognized it from all of the Iron Chef (Japan) that I’ve watched. I did a lot of online research about how to cook it, and I followed the advice of someone who said that you should blanch it to reduce some of the bitterness. Actually, I tried a bit of it raw and thought it tasted the way that I imagine burnt rubber tastes. After blanching it and then stir-frying it with onions and curry powder it tasted like… curried rubber. Still, I’m glad that I tried it and satisfied my curiosity.

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3 thoughts on “Secret Ingredient: Karela (Bitter Melon)

  1. The Indian version of the bitter melon is wayyyyy more bitter. Even if you cook it Cantonese style, you’d have to use a lot of sugar to offset the bitterness; it’d be a hot mess.

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