Karela (bittergourd) has been a favourite in our family. While my sister can eat it in all forms, I like it crispy fried, or when the bitterness is reduced.
Sister had learnt a stuffed karela recipe from a Sindhi friend. In that dish, she carefully carved out the seeds and stuffed the karelas (soaked in salt for 10-15 minutes and pressed of excess water) with onions, tomato, garlic, etc. Then I guess she used to deep fry the vegetable and flow it in a spicy gravy. While V and others absolutely loved this dish, I could not have it for the raw bitter taste still lingered.
The best karela sabzi I have eaten so far was at a relative's house. I tried reproducing it today and it turned out just like that day. I was so so excited that one recipe of a great, jolly old foodie now survives with me. Here I am sharing with you the recipe.
3 karelas, sliced in rings and pressed dry after applying salt
A small cup of imli / tamarind pulp soaked in very little water
A cupful of matar / green peas
2-3 tablespoons of sugar
Salt and red chilly powder to taste.
Oil, mustard seeds, hing (asafoetida), haldi (turmeric powder)
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a heavy-bottomed steel pan. (I started with aluminum kadhai, but later shifted realizing the huge amount of imli that goes in this dish)
Add a teaspoon of mustard seeds, pinch of hing and haldi in that order. Next add karela. Saute till half-cooked and slightly brown, do not cover with a lid. Now add peas. The photo below is just after I added peas.
Saute till karela is crispy and peas are cooked. This should take 5-7 minutes.
Now, extract thick tamarind pulp. It should come to 2-3 tablespoons. As soon you add this, the veggies will get sticky and because of the sour addition, won't cook. So make sure you add imli after the karela and peas are tender enough. Immediately add a generous amount of sugar to balance the sour taste. I added about 1 1/2 tablespoons. Add salt and chilly to taste.
Delicious sweet-sour karela-matar sabzi is ready...