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Feasting Florida

Enjoying a sustainable, organic, lifestyle indulging in all Florida's Cuisines throughout the seasons



Karela (mojmordica charantia) is a different form of bitter melon found in Indian cuisine. Sometimes it is called bitter gourd. It is in the same family as Chinese Bitter Melon mojmordica charantia spp. This particular variety thrives in hot humid weather, in well-draining soil that is slightly acidic. It is cultivated in African and Southeast Asian countries. It is smaller and more compact than the Chinese version.

Karela or Indian Bitter Melon

The pith is and seeds are extremely bitter and must be removed before cooking. The skin is tender and edible. The smaller the fruit, the tenderer it is, so the better it will be.

It is said to help purify the blood, and is beneficial with people who have diabetes. It is supposed to help lower blood sugar levels. It is anti-inflammatory, and has healing capacities.

To use karela, it is suggested to scrub the skin then rub with salt. The salt helps draw out any bitterness. Squeeze the water out after 1 hour of resting. Most common, it is used in Indian Curries, or floured and fried. To reduce bitterness combine with tamarind, jaggery (palm sugar), grated coconut and add beans and legumes to the curry.

Chinese Bitter Melon

© 2014 Chef Jennifer M. Denlinger All rights reserved

cite me: Denlinger, J. (2014, September 25). Karela. Retrieved from:

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