Karela Fry: This Crispy-Bitter South Indian Recipe Is A Must-Try
Image Credit: Karela Fry

In Indian households, bitter gourd is cooked as a wonderful side dish called Karela Fry. This crispy, slightly spicy side dish goes best with the comfort meal of rice and dal. It is also served as part of an elaborate meal. Karela Fry is popular across the country with several variations. While some fry the bitter gourd only with turmeric, red chilli powder, and salt, others fry it in a coating of besan, while still others fry the vegetable in cornflour or rice flour along with a little turmeric powder and salt. In some variations, especially in South India, tamarind juice is added to the dish, which complements the taste of the bitter gourd. The addition of spices and the crispiness balances out the bitterness of the vegetable. In all variations, the dish is easy to make and can be quickly rustled up. Also, this is an ideal dish for those looking to control their weight as it is quite low in calories. 

Karela Fry is also known, in India, as Kakarakaya Fry, Pavakki Fry, Korola Fry etc. Bitter gourd is also cooked in other ways such as stuffed karela, dahi (curd) karela, karela chips, karela bharta, dry karela curry made with tomato and onions, and more. 

Bitter gourd is arguably one of the healthiest vegetables. It is said to contain antioxidants and is believed to be good for the liver as it helps flush out toxins from the organ. Besides, it comprises antimicrobial properties which are believed to purify blood. It is also believed to aid in digestion and facilitates absorption of nutrients. It is also considered ideal for those suffering from diabetes as it contains charantin, which is believed to control high blood sugar. It is good for the heart as it is considered to lower bad cholesterol. There are other benefits that make bitter gourd a wonder vegetable. Serve the Karela Fry with dal and rice. It can also be cooked with onions and made into a dry curry to be eaten with rice. 

Karela Fry

Here is the recipe for Karela Fry: 


    1 bitter gourd 

    1 tbsp of rice flour

    ½ tbsp cornflour

    1 tsp turmeric powder

    ½ tbsp of tamarind juice (soak tamarind in water and extract the juice)

    Refined oil

    Salt, to taste


    Wash and cut the bitter gourd into evenly-sized, thin pieces.

    Add a tablespoon of rice flour to the sliced bitter gourd.

    Add half a tablespoon of cornflour, a teaspoon of turmeric powder, salt to taste, and 1/2 tablespoon of tamarind juice, sprinkle a little water, and mix well to cover the slices with the spices.

    In a pan, heat enough oil to fry the bitter gourd slices. 

    Lower the bitter gourd slices into the oil and deep fry for a few minutes till it turns crispy.

    Take the slices out of the oil and place on a paper napkin to drain excess oil.