Karela Nu Shaak
Recipe: Karela Nu Shaak
What is Karela Nu Shaak?
Karela nu shaak is simply a Gujarati style side dish, sabji or shaak as we call it. Chopped karela or bitter gourd is stir fried till done with spices. 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 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 but I’m not a fan of it.
Theme: Gourds Are Beautiful
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.
What are Gourds?
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
Ingredients Required For Karela Nu Shaak
Bitter Gourd – also known as bitter melon, karela. If you want to remove the bitter taste, chop the karela and sprinkle some salt over it from the measured amount. Mix and leave for 20- 30 minutes. The bitter melon will let out its juice. Take the chopped bitter melon in your hand. Make a fist and squeeze out the juice. Then cook the bitter gourd.
Oil – use oil of your preference. I have used sunflower oil.
Mustard Seeds – rai na dana.
Cumin Seeds – jeera, jiru.
Sesame Seeds – tal, til.
Asafoetida – hing. For gluten free option, omit adding it as most hing contain traces of wheat flour.
Turmeric Powder – haldi, hardar.
Salt – add according to your taste.
Red Chilli Powder – add according to your taste.
Coriander Cumin Powder – dhana jiru.
Cashew Nuts – roughly chopped.
Raisins – optional ingredient.
Jaggery – I use either grated or powdered.
Poppy Seeds – khus khus. Optional ingredients.
Fresh Coriander – chopped
Watch How To Make Karela Nu Shaak
KARELA NU SHAAK, GUJARATI STYLE
- 250 g bitter gourd
- 2 tbsp oil
- ¾ - 1 tsp salt
- 1-2 tbsp jaggery grated or powdered
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- ¼ tsp asafoetida
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 1 tsp coriander cumin powder
- ¼ cup cashew nuts chopped
- 2 tbsp raisins
- 1 tsp white poppy seeds
- 1-2 tbsp fresh coriander chopped
- 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.
- Adjust spices and jaggery according to your taste.
- Adding poppy seeds is optional.
- If the bitter gourd is not cooked and the mixture dries up, add 1-2 tbsp water when its cooking.
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