Oven Baked Sweet & Sour Karela (bitter gourd)- If you have never made karela this way before, then give it a try.
Super simple to make in the oven, this karela recipe has sweet and sour flavors and makes a nice side with dal and rice.
It is so weird that this is the first karela recipe that I am sharing on the blog.
Karela aka the bitter gourd has been my favorite vegetable ever since I was a little child. Most kids I knew hated karela, well of course because it was bitter and kids didn’t like it.
On the other hand, I loved the bitterness of the bitter gourd and used to request mom to make it often.
Even now, when I go back to India, the first sabzi that I ask my house help to make is simple karela stir-fry in mustard oil. It is so good!
Sarvesh wasn’t a huge karela fan when we got married. In fact he used to resist eating it like most people do. But over the years, my love for karela rubbed over him and now he loves it too. Yay me!
I love karela in every form, my mother-in-law makes an amazing Bharwa Karela (stuffed version) and she always makes it a point to cook it for me when she is here.
This time around when she made it, I even noted down the recipe but never got around sharing it. I will look up my notes and try to make it again and share that recipe too with you guys.
However, today I am excited to share my favorite way to cook karela these days. It is so simple, hardly takes any time and comes out so good!
This Oven Baked Karela
✔ requires very few ingredients.
✔ easy to bake in the oven, no making the masala
✔ makes an easy side with dal, rice or roti.
This recipe is my favorite because I don’t have to chop several things or make the masala.
I just have to peel and slice the karela, mix with the spices and bake. That’s it!
The resulting karela is sweet and sour and is also little crispy. It is very addictive and I can’t stop eating it.
The spices that are used here are cumin powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, turmeric powder and amchur which gives it a tangy taste.
For the sweetness, I have used jaggery powder and that’s because I love the flavor of jaggery in this recipe. If you don’t have jaggery, you can replace it with brown sugar.
I toss everything together and then let it rest for 20 minutes and then bake. That is about it.
Karela is bitter and sometimes it is really very bitter. If that’s the case I would suggest peeling the skin, rubbing the karela with salt and let it sit for 20 minutes or so and then wash it with fresh water and then use in the recipe.
The karela that I used weren’t really bitter so I roughly peeled the skin and that was enough. I didn’t even remove the seeds.
But it could also be me, I like the bitterness of the karela and also the seeds. I feel that in order to enjoy it you must enjoy it’s bitterness too after all that’s the main flavor of this vegetable, isn’t it?
The addition of jaggery powder gives them enough sweetness and Sarvesh didn’t even find them bitter.
We enjoyed this baked karela with rice and dal, it made a very comforting meal. If you guys have never baked bitter gourd, then give this recipe a try. You have been missing out!
1- Wash and peel the skin of the karela. I peeled it roughly since I like the bitterness and also the karela that I used were not that bitter.
If you don’t like the bitterness peel the skin completely. Again, I didn’t remove the seeds since I like them but you may remove the seeds.
Then cut each karela into thin slices, around 1/8 inch thick.
2- Transfer cut slices into a large bowl and add 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons oil to it. Toss to combine.
3- Then add all the spices- cumin, coriander, amchur, red chili powder, turmeric and salt. Also add the jaggery. Toss to combine until all slices are well coated with the spices. Set aside for 20 minutes.
4- Pre-heat oven to 400 F degrees. Line a large baking sheet with aluminium foil and set aside.
After 20 minutes, line a large baking sheet with aluminium foil and spray the sheet with a oil spray and then transfer the karela slices onto the baking sheet in a single layer.
Bake at 400 F degrees for 20 to 23 minutes. I usually bake for 22 to 23 minutes.
Optional- After it has baked for 22 to 23 minutes, press broil and bake for 1-2 minutes to get it little crispy and extra brown. Be careful though, it will burn quickly, so once you press broil keep an eye.
Garnish with cilantro and serve as a side with rice and dal or with roti. You may also squeeze in some fresh lemon juice before serving.