This bitter melon peel stir-fry is for those of you who love bitter melon. It’s a great way to use up an ingredient that you might otherwise toss out.
Karele ke chilke ki sabzi is a stir-fry dish that calls for bitter melon peels. Bitter melon is a very acquired taste, so if you’ve never heard of this fruit, then chances are you will not like the dish. People either love it or hate it.
I used to be a karela hater, but now I love love love it. So yes, it’s absolutely possible to acquire the taste for it, but I’m not sure anyone likes it on the first try. Kinda like beer, right? (I actually still don’t like beer).
The key to making a dish using karela is to balance its bitter flavor with other flavors. For example, in this dish, the caramelized onions and fried potatoes balance out bitter melon’s bitterness.
Most recipes that call for karela first call for peeling the fruit. Typically people discard the peels, but why waste, right? Use the peels in this dish, then use the rest of the bitter melon in one of my other bitter melon recipes.
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then you know I hate to waste. I’m the type of person who saves all of my organic veggie scraps in a ziplock bag in the freezer to make homemade veggie stock. I save bones to make bone broth. I use leftover hambone to make all kinds of soup. In addition to those recipes, I have several recipes on the blog that already call for ingredients most people typically toss out: leftover lemons, watermelon rind, carrot tops. And now, I’m happy to add bitter melon peels to this list:
Not only will you feel good about using up an ingredient that most throw away, but you’ll hopefully also feel good thanks to all of the health benefits that bitter melon has to offer! Bitter melon is said to help with all sorts of ailments, including diabetes, cancer, infections, and immune issues (source: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center)
So go on and make this dish! It’s a delicious way to enjoy a very bitter fruit. Two words you probably wouldn’t expect to see together (tasty + bitter) but those of us who love bitter melon know it’s possible.
- If you just finished making my stuffed karela, you can use the remaining mustard oil in the pot to cook this dish right in your Instant Pot by pressing the sauté button. Otherwise you can make this on a stovetop: Heat the mustard oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.
- Add the bitter melon peels, onion, potato and serrano pepper. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes.
- Remove the lid, raise the heat to medium-high, then add the spices and stir-fry for 4-5 more minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through and have started to caramelize along with the onions. The longer you cook, the less bitter the dish will be.
- To make roasted cumin powder: heat a skillet over low heat and dry roast cumin seeds (I usually do 1 cup) for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the color of the cumin changes to a dark brown. Turn off the heat and allow the cumin seeds to cool down. Place the cumin into a spice grinder and blend until smooth. Store in an airtight jar and use within 6-8 months for the most flavor.