Karela Gosht – Bitter Gourd and Meat (Lamb or Mutton) Curry
Living away from parents has shown me many a day I would have never pictured myself going through. Examples of such days include me actually missing my Mother’s vegetable curry, bursting into tears because of one too many burnt chapattis, being excited about an evening in and the day I realised ‘Hey, I’m actually enjoying this housewife-biz’
Another example would be the day I cooked bitter gourd.
My issue with bitter gourd has always been that it takes so much effort and time and patience just to make them bearable to eat. Why go through all that effort when you have vegetables such as cauliflower and potatoes and carrots and peas which taste perfectly fine and you don’t have to do anything to them? Then you have karela, which take hours to prepare and they still often have a touch of bitterness left. It was for that reason that I never gave bitter gourd a second glance whenever I went vegetable hunting.
My Mother always kept a touch of the bitterness on purpose, because she liked it that way. That meant that on days when she had cooked karela, I would refuse to eat. Since I’ve gotten married and now have complete reign over my kitchen and cooking, cooking karela hasn’t high on my priority list (see above). But recently, my husband mentioned not having had bitter gourd in a long time and so I decided, just for experiments sake, I’d cook Karela Gosht, bitter gourd and meat.
Well, it was so good that I can absolutely see myself cooking bitter gourd more often!
I managed to drain out most of the bitterness and whatever was left was complimented so well by the juicy meat and masala!
Having said that, I probably wouldn’t ever cook bitter gourd on its own. The meat really makes this recipe shine for me and I guess it’s just down to personal preference!
Here are some key tips to get that bitter taste out of bitter gourd which you can use for any recipe including it:
1. Make sure you peel the skin off the bitter gourd. That is where a lot of the bitterness resides.
2. It is imperative that you allow the bitter gourd to sit in some salt for a minimum of half an hour. If you have the time even an hour is fine. Salt helps suck out the bitter fluid. This step is vital.
3. Make sure you squeeze out all the water after allowing the bitter gourds to sit in the salt. This may take some strength and handpower – I used both of my hands and squeeze them together VERY HARD with the bitter gourd inside of them and this helped to get most of the water out
4. Fry the bitter gourd. This helps get rid of the additional bitterness
5. Add a bit of sugar into the masala. My mother never used to do this but I find it helps combat the remaining bitterness that will inevitably be left in the bitter gourd
And finally. onto the recipe. Enjoy, with love x
600grams mutton or lamb meat, bone in
1tspred chilli powder, or to taste
1.5tspsalt, or to taste
1tspsugar, or as needed
1handfulfresh coriander, chopped
Using a sharp knife, peel away the skin of the bitter gourd, cut them into thin slices and deseed them, as shown in the picture
Place all the bitter gourds in a colander and add a tsp of salt and rub in. Allow this to sit for 30-45 minutes. Once the time is up, wash the salt out with cold water and squeeze the bitter gourds VERY well, using your hands. You want the bitter gourds to be a minimum 90% dry as all the water we are squeezing out is the bitterness.
Heat a cup of oil in a pan. Fry the bitter gourds till lightly golden, as shown in the picture. Careful not to overcrowd the pan - fry in batches if needed
In the same pan, take out all but about a quarter cup of oil. Add one onion, garlic, ginger and cumin seeds and saute till golden
Add the tomatoes, a few splashes of water, some of the sugar (add half now and reserve the other half for later if needed) and all the spices. Cook till the tomatoes loosen up and a masala forms.
Add the meat. Saute it on high in the masala till it no longer remains pink, then add 2 cups of hot water. Cover and simmer on low for 50 minutes for lamb and an hour for mutton.
Once that's done, add one sliced onion, the fried bitter gourds, a handful of coriander and a few splashes of water if the curry is looking dry. Adjust the spices if needed. Cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes.