Karela Nu Shaak
THEME: #220 GOURDS ARE BEAUTIFUL
What is Karela Nu Shaak?
Karela nu shaak is simply a side dish or sabji where chopped karela or bitter gourd is stir fried till done. One can cook it with potatoes or cashew nuts. I chose to prepare it with cashew nuts and raisins. After the karela are cooked, jaggery is added to make it into a delicious, lip smacking sweet and bitter shaak, sabji or side dish that is usually enjoyed with hot rotlis or phulkas, any other sabji/shaak and tuvar dal. I’ve used the description of karela nu shaak as delicious and lip smacking. These are the words that hubby uses to describe it. He loves karela or bitter gourd and I’m not a fan of it.
What are Gourds?
Sujata who blogs at Batter Up With Sujata suggested Gourds as our next theme for FoodieMonday/Bloghop group. If you need any recipes for cookies then her blog is where you should go as she has a huge variety of them. There are two descriptions of gourd. One is the plant belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family which are herbaceous tendril bearing vines. Gourds also refers to the large fleshy fruits with or without hard skin that grow on these climbing or trailing plants.
There are three main groups of gourds:
- Citrullus colocynthis
It is believed that there are over 800 species of gourd. Pumpkins, squashes, melons are all actually gourds. Not all gourds are edible. Some are used for decoration, some which have a hard shell are used as receptacles like bowls, cups, bottles etc. Calabash which is a type of bottle gourd is a good example of a gourd that when tender is cooked and when mature, the inner part is scooped out and used as a utensil.
Some popular gourds we know:
Pumpkin is a popular gourd used both for decoration and cooking. Have you tried Pumpkin Spice Latte?
Did you know cucumber and zucchini too belong to the gourd family? My favorite cucumber dish is Chilled cucumber and yogurt soup. While I tend to add zucchini to lots of dishes, I’ve yet to try adding it to my bakes. Still have my niece’s eggless zucchini bread muffins that I need to try.
Melons are gourds. Most popular is watermelon. While on watermelon why not try out a simple watermelon and halloumi salad.
Yes, butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash are all gourds. While I still have to taste acorn and spaghetti squash, butternut squash is available throughout the year in Kenya. I love making butternut sauce to serve with pasta.
Popular Gourds for Indian Cuisine
Bottle gourd or doodhi definitely tops the list. Used to make curries, added to flatbreads, added to other curries, its such a versatile vegetable or rather fruit to include in your daily cooking. My favorite is adding it to make muthia, a popular Gujarati snack dish.
Ivy gourd or tindora is another popular gourd which finds its way to most dining tables of India. My all favorite way to cook tindora is to make sweet corn and sweet corn and tindora nu shaak.
I’ve used pointed gourd (parwal), snake gourd (galka), ash gourd often in curries.
More about Bitter Melon, Bitter Gourd or Karela
As I mentioned above karela or bitter gourd is not my favorite so I tend to cook it rarely. When the theme was decided, retired hubby decided to come downstairs with me where the fruit and vegetable vendors comes thrice a week in our apartment complex. I was eyeing kantola or spiny gourd and was about to pick some when he insisted that I buy bitter gourd or karela for him. Reluctantly did that. Went hunting for some karela recipes like Archana’s Stuffed karela, and Preethi’s Bitter Gourd and Bell Pepper Pickle which both were tempting option. I even checked out Sujata’s Tamatari Karela (Bitter gourd with tomato). However, hubby insisted that I make it Nunu (MIL)’s style. So Gujarati karela nu shaak it was while kantola will have to wait for a while. As for me I tasted a bit of the karela nu shaak, not bad as it was not as bitter as I thought it would be.
- Its gluten free
- Its vegan friendly
- Without onion, garlic and potato its an ideal satvik sabji
KARELA NU SHAAK, GUJARATI STYLE
250g bitter gourd (karela)
3 tbsp oil
¾ – 1 tsp salt
2-3 tbsp jaggery, grated
1 tsp mustard seeds (rai)
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1 tbsp sesame seeds (tal)
¼ tsp asafetida (hing)
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp dhana jiru powder (coriander cumin powder)
¼ cup chopped cashew nuts
2 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp white poppy seeds
2 tbsp fresh chopped coriander
- Wash and chop bitter gourd into medium slices or you can cut them into strips of 2″- 3″ long. If you find that the seeds are too hard, remove them.
- I omitted this step but you can follow it to make the karela nu shaak less bitter. Sprinkle salt over the chopped bitter gourd, mix it and leave for 15 – 30 minutes.
- Squeeze the bitter gourd gently between your palms to remove the bitter juice.
- Heat oil in a pan or pressure cooker over medium heat.
- Add mustard seeds. As soon as they begin to crackle add cumin and sesame seeds.
- Add asafetida and turmeric powder.
- Add the chopped bitter gourd or karela. Mix it well. If you did not leave the chopped bitter gourd with salt for a while then add the salt.
- Cover the pan or pressure cooker. Reduce the heat to low.
- Let the karela cook till done. Stir occasionally if you’ve making it a pan. If you’re cooking it in the pressure cooker, then let it cook till one whistle blows.
- When done, add cashew nuts, raisins, coriander cumin powder, red chili powder. Mix well.
- Add the jaggery, mix well and let the karela cook a bit till the jaggery melts.
- Take the pan off the heat. Add poppy seeds and chopped coriander. Mix well and serve.
- Don’t chop the bitter gourd to thin or too thick.
- If you make it in the pressure cooker, then its important that its cooked over low heat otherwise it will get burnt as no water is added.
- If you add peeled and chopped potatoes then you will need to add more salt. If you add potato use 1-2 medium size that are chopped like thick French fries.(chips)
- Add jaggery according to your taste. For me 2 tbsp was enough.
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