Karela Nu Shaak

November 11, 2019mayurisjikoni
Blog post

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:

  • Cucurbita
  • Lagenaria
  • 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. 

Ridge gourd or turiya, turia, is another popular gourd I tend to use especially when I make khichdi. I love to make it with peas or with yard long beans (chori).

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. 

Dietary Tips:

  • 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

karela nu shaak 5
karela nu shaak 6
karela nu shaak 7

Watch How To Make 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
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course sabji, shaak, Side Dish
Cuisine Gujarati
Servings 3


  • 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.
Keyword bitter gourd recipe, bitter melon recipe, how to make bitter gourd, Gujarati style, karela nu shaak, karela sabji

Pin for later:

karela nu shaak

A little request:

If you do try this recipe then please either

  • add a comment below,
  • send a picture to my email mayuri.ajay.patel62@gmail.com
  •  tag me as #mayuri_jikoni on Instagram
  • or tag me on Twitter as #Mayuri1962





  • Nayns Kanabar

    November 11, 2019 at 8:03 pm

    It’s funny how our taste buds change with age. I too did not like this shak due to the bitterness , but as I grow older I love it. I always cut my karela in rounds this is new , I will try it this way ,

    1. mayurisjikoni

      November 12, 2019 at 4:32 pm

      Thanks Nayna, and I will try slices next time. I still cannot eat it on its own, need another shaak with it.

  • shobhakeshwani

    November 12, 2019 at 1:25 am

    I love karela sabzi .. Must try your version with raisins and cashew nuts added to it.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      November 12, 2019 at 4:30 pm

      Thanks Shobha, hope you like it.

  • FoodTrails

    November 12, 2019 at 11:27 pm

    I loved this karela Subzi with nuts and raisins and poppy seeds.. will try this version as I always make it with lots of onions and powdered masala.. I am drooling over the meal platter pic of karela shaak with Chapatis and dal!!

    1. mayurisjikoni

      November 13, 2019 at 6:38 pm

      Thank you so much Swaty. Hope you like the Gujju version of karela.

    2. poonampagar

      November 14, 2019 at 6:00 pm

      We make karela stir-fry the same with jaggery and coriander powder . I love your addition of nuts raisins and poppy seeds. Will try your way next time.

  • themadscientistskitchen

    November 13, 2019 at 12:49 pm

    Mayuri Thanks for the shout appreciate it a lot. As for the gujju style karela sabzi it is awesome. I definitely will love it plain like a snack. 😀 sounds weird does it?
    Absolutely love it n must thank you hubby for insisting on the vegetable.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      November 13, 2019 at 6:37 pm

      Thanks Archana, you’re welcome and yes having it on its own sounds weird to me as I’m not a fan of karela.

  • The Girl Next Door

    November 13, 2019 at 1:59 pm

    I love bitter gourd Sabzi made the Gujju way. Is this the version that is served in Gujarati weddings?

    I’ll definitely try this out soon. Interesting that you make it in a pressure cooker.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      November 13, 2019 at 6:36 pm

      Priya the one that is usually served during weddings is a little different in the sense that the karela chips are fried till crispy. I will be making that soon.

  • poonampagar

    November 14, 2019 at 6:01 pm

    We make karela stir-fry the same with jaggery and coriander powder . I love your addition of nuts raisins and poppy seeds. Will try your way next time.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      November 15, 2019 at 6:17 pm

      Thanks Poonam, in olden times nuts and raisins were added when it was made for weddings. Back then homes hardly ever used them in abundance.

  • Preethi Prasad

    November 17, 2019 at 10:06 am

    My family loves Karela Sabzi. Loved your version of sabzi with poppy seeds, jaggery ,cashews and raisins. Sounds absolutely lip smacking. Another recipe i would love to try. Thanks for sharing.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      November 18, 2019 at 3:53 pm

      Thanks Preethi and you’re welcome.

  • Vasusvegkitchen

    November 17, 2019 at 4:30 pm

    Karela nu shaak looks super delicious, I too d’t know when I started liking karela di. The way you used nuts, raisins, poppy seeds made this curry very intresting di, adding jaggery surely make it more tasty 👌.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      November 18, 2019 at 3:51 pm

      Thank you so much Aruna.

  • Renu Agrawal Dongre

    November 19, 2019 at 3:29 pm

    I am enjoying reading this post of yours as I am too in the same boat. But for me both of us do not like so I do not make it. But with cashew and jaggery added to it, I think I would enjoy this and would give it a try. As at times I really feel like picking them up, but do not. The sabji with the sprinkle of sesame seeds looks tempting too.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      November 20, 2019 at 4:51 pm

      Thank you so much Renu. Give it a try someday, maybe you’ll like it.

  • Batter Up With Sujata

    November 20, 2019 at 2:34 pm

    Karela stir fry looks awesome. You made it beautiful by sprinkling poppy seeds over it. Loved the presentation. Its my most favorite karela dish. You made it so perfectly.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      November 20, 2019 at 4:47 pm

      Thank you so much Sujata.

  • namscorner18

    November 27, 2019 at 11:34 am

    Gujarati style karela stir fry looks so delicious with sesame seeds topping. I love karela and bookmarking the recipe to try sometime

    1. mayurisjikoni

      November 28, 2019 at 11:04 am

      Thanks Narmadha and hope you love it when you try out the recipe.

  • Kavita

    July 18, 2020 at 3:09 am

    I made today – unfortunately no quantities for the coriander cumin powder, red chili powder. And also which type of poppy seeds. For a novice this was challenging. But I guess and it tastes ok.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      July 19, 2020 at 3:45 pm

      Hi Kavita so sorry just an oversight. Have updated the post. Use 1 tsp coriander cumin powder and red chilli powder is actually according to your taste. As for poppy seeds generally Indian cooking use the white variety.

  • Chetan Pandya

    October 13, 2020 at 4:46 pm

    I ate a lot of Gujarati style karela subji when I was in India but this new recipe with nuts etc – I will be trying it for the first time. I am sure it will come out deliciously tasty.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      October 14, 2020 at 7:13 pm

      Thank you so much Chetan. Please try it and share a photo of your preparation.

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