Kaarelaa (Bitter melon with Onions & Potatoes)


As the children’s song goes, uni uni rotli ne kaarelaa nu shaak – to eat with hot rotli and yogurt on a rainy day.


2 cups              kaarelaa (bitter melons), diced 1/2"

1 teaspoon        mithu (salt)

2 cups              kaandaa (onions), cut into strips

2 cups              batekaa (potatoes), cut into strips


8 tablespoon      tel (oil)

¼ teaspoon       hing (asafetida)

1                      suku marchu (whole, dried pepper)


¼ teaspoon       hardar (turmeric)

1 ½ teaspoon    mithu (salt)


6 teaspoon        saaker (sugar) or gol (jaggery or brown sugar)

1 teaspoon        marchu (cayenne pepper)

1 teaspoon        dhaanaa-jiru (powdered coriander & cumin seeds)


1.                   Seed and cut the bitter melons.  Add salt and let them soak for about an hour.

2.                   Peel and cut the onions and potatoes in long strips.

3.                   Heat oil in a non-stick pan.  Add asafetida and whole dried pepper.  Wait for the pepper to start popping.  Add the onions and reduce the heat to medium.  Cook for about 3 minutes.

4.                   Add the potatoes, turmeric and salt.  Cook for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked.

5.                   Squeeze all excess juice from the bitter melon and add the melons to the onions.  Cook for 5 minutes.

6.                   Add the sugar, cayenne pepper and coriander-cumin powder.

7.                   Remove from heat.


Source: Kokila 1978