Spicy Sautéed Bitter Gourd (Karela)

Bitter gourd (karela) is a vegetable that I really didn’t grow up loving. The only way I could tolerate it when I was younger was when it was deep fried and covered in spice.

This spicy sautéed karela recipe however, changed my whole relationship with this vegetable for me. Maggie who makes the best Trini food ever – makes Karela in the simplest, most delicious way.

You can make this dish as spicy as you wish – just increase or reduce the number of chili peppers – and you can use whatever peppers you have but tasty peppers is the key to this recipe. This recipe is best cooked in a cast iron or nonstick pan.

All I need is a bowl of dal to go with this karela and life is good!

Spicy Sautéed Bitter Gourd  (Karela)

Serves 4


8 – 10 bitter gourds, cut into halves and remove seeds

7 cloves garlic, grated

1 large onion, chopped

3 – 4 bird’s eye chilies, chopped

1 – 2 cherry peppers (opt)

Oil ( use any neutral tasting oil – I used avocado)

Salt to taste



  • Cut the bitter gourd (karela) into 2-inch matchsticks and place in a colander. Sprinkle about 2 tsp of salt on it and let it sit in the sink for about 20 minutes. Squeeze out the juice from the bitter gourd and then wash it under running water and squeeze it again until you have extracted as much liquid as possible from the vegetable. This will help reduce the bitterness considerably.


  • In a large frying pan, add 4 tbsp oil. Add garlic, onions, chili and cook on medium high heat, stirring occasionally for about 3-4 minutes until the onions begin to soften.


  • Add the bitter gourd and mix well. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 20 – 25 minutes until it is fully cooked and gets a little blackened and crispy on the edges. Add salt and eat with rice or roti.

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