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Bitter Gourd Health Benefits and Easy Recipes using Bitter Melon

Updated on May 16, 2013
Anamika S profile image

Anamika S Jain is a Social Media Consultant and Blogger. She is passionate about topics like Alternative Health Therapies and Hindu Mantras.

Bitter Melon - Health Benefits and Nutritional Value

The scientific name of Bitter Gourd or Bitter Melon is ‘Momordica Charantia’. It is a tropical vine and the fruits, leaves and extracts of this plant are used as medicine. It is also known as Balsam Pear. It is the most bitter of all vegetables. The Indian names of this vegetable are Karela, Pavakkai and Kakkarakai. Bitter Melon is very helpful in regulating the Blood Sugar Levels and as a Diabetic Cure. It is also used to treat hypertension, eye complications, neuritis and defective metabolism of carbohydrates. It is also said to increase the body's resistance against infection. Bitter gourd is proven effective in treating blood disorders like blood boils, itching, scabies, psoriasis, ring-worm and other fungal diseases. Bitter melon aids digestion and can be used by those with digestive disorders and constipation.

Bitter melon comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. It is widely grown in South and SouthEast Asia, Africa, China and the Caribbean. Bitter Melons are available fresh from April to September in most Asian markets. Bitter gourd has several essential vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin C, Iron, Calcium, Phosphorus, copper and potassium. Bitter guard is widely used in Ayurveda and considered and excellent remedy for Kapha problems. It helps purify blood tissue, enhances digestion and stimulates the liver. Due to their numerous medicinal properties bitter melon are also sold as juices and extracts in the market.

Though it has a bitter taste it is widely used in Cooking especially Indian. Young bitter gourds which do not have hard seeds are the best for cooking. If the seeds are not tender they are mostly removed before cooking. This Vegetable is normally not mixed with other vegetables because of its bitter taste. However the bitterness of this Vegetable can be reduced to some extent by putting the cut pieces in boiled water with salt for 5 minutes. Another way is by exposing the salted bitter melon pieces to sunlight for a few hours and then squeezes the pieces by hand to remove excess salt and bitterness. If necessary this pieces can be rinsed before using for cooking. Then it's rinsed with water a few times. I am not aware of the scientific reason behind this but have heard old people telling that Pregnant Woman, Nursing mothers and Nursing Mothers should not to eat bitter guards. Some studies on Bitter Melon have shown favorable results in treating Malaria, Cancer and HIV infection etc but the Research is still on.

Bitter Melon Health Benefits and Easy Bitter Gourd Recipes
Bitter Melon Health Benefits and Easy Bitter Gourd Recipes

Bitter Gourd Recipes

Bitter Gourd Pickle

Mix 3 medium bitter guards cut thin round slices, Ginger Paste I tablespoon, 10-12 Garlic flakes finely chopped, 6 green chillies finely chopped, ½ Cup Lemon Juice/White Vineger and Salt and keep it in an airtight container. Shake the container 2-3 times a day for 3 days. On the 4th day remove from the container and drain the liquid in the mixture and spread the vegetable in a clean cloth and keep it in sunlight for 1-2 hours for removing the moisture. Once done add mixture is cool add 2 tsp. red chilli powder, 1/4 tsp. turmeric powder, 1/4 tsp. asafetida powder, 1/2 tsp paste of crushed fenugreek seeds and aniseeds. Mix well and add table spoon Jaggery. Heat Oil in a Kadai and add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, a pinch of asafetida and salt to taste. Once it is cool mix well with the mixture and keep it in an airtight container. The Pickle will be ready to use after 3 days.

Stuffed Karela

Wash 10-12 small variety of Karela thoroughly and slit vertically on one side of the Karela and scoop out the seeds inside. Rub the insides of the Karela with salt. Set aside for about 20 minutes. There are several types of stuffing one can experiment with. To prepare a simple stuffing heat some Oil in a Kadai and add 1 medium Onion finely chopped and sauté for some time. Add 1 teaspoon chopped garlic, 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger, 2 Serrano peppers finely chopped, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and amchoor powder. If necessary add water. Wipe the prepared Karela thoroughly and stuff the spice mixture to the slit of the Karela and fry the Karela in a Pan in medium flame till it is cooked evenly. Once ready add chopped coriander leaves on Karela and serve hot.

Khatta Meetha (Sweet and Sour) Karela

Wash 10-12 small bitter gourds thoroughly and make a slit on the side of Karela and remove the seeds. Apply salt on the insides and set aside. For making the stuffing mix around 4 tablespoons of tamarind pulp in a bowl, add salt, 2 teaspoon coriander powder, chilli powder and saunf powder. Fill the bitter gourd with this stuffing. Heat oil in a Kadai, add cumin seeds and allow crackling. Add a pinch of hing and cook the stuffed karela evenly on all sides. Cook on low heat. Once cooked add some water and around 4 tablespoons of crushed jaggery. Mix well. Cover and Cook on low flame for 15-20 minutes. Garnish with scarped coconut and coriander leaves. Serve hot with Rotis.

Stuffed Karela

Karela Pickle


Submit a Comment
  • profile image


    10 years ago



  • profile image


    11 years ago

    I'm diabetic and I eat them raw. The added value is too great to worry about taste.

  • profile image

    Clay Plater 

    11 years ago

    Great to find some new ways to cook these.

    I have two vines growing on my balcony here in Japan, where they are called 'Goya'. A recipe from Okinawa is to slice them into 3mm rings and soak in salted water for about 20 minutes. Rinse and pat dry, then stir fry with some onion, some sliced Spam or ham, and some bean sprouts. Final step is to add one or two whisked eggs and stir just a little. Season with salt and pepper.

    For a nice companion drink, throw a few seeded gourd in a blender with two cups of apple juice, a few sprigs of fresh mint, and a tablespoon of honey. Strain and serve. Delicious!

  • profile image


    11 years ago

    you can also cook bitter gourd with beef and/or oyster sauce

    sauté garlic onion add meat and oyster sauce add little water add bitter gourd last

  • profile image


    11 years ago

    in cooking bitter gourd avoid stirring it so it will not taste that bitter

    to cook with egg - sauté garlic onion and tomatoes then add bitter gourd take note do not stir cover the pan

    add scrambled egg last

  • profile image

    amit kumar 

    11 years ago

    a really good information, Bittergourd also helps a lot in eliminating fats from the body naturally, and keeps the skin free from blemishes,

  • quicksand profile image


    11 years ago

    I am off to get some Momordica Charantia!

  • soni2006 profile image

    Rajinder Soni 

    11 years ago from New Delhi, India

    Hey this one is an excellent hub Anamika. You know a lot about bitter gourd. I found you via facebook.

  • Anamika S profile imageAUTHOR

    Anamika S Jain 

    12 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

    Thanks einron, muthusamy and Ramlakshman for adding value to the topic of discussion.

  • profile image


    12 years ago

    Ms. Anamika, Really a very good topic you have chosen on bitter gourd. A vegetable widely needed at this hour , because most Indians are inflicted with diabetics including myself.I eat this bitter gourd in my food items. My family is accustomed to add gud ( in Tamil Vellam)while preparing bitter gourd in order just to avoid its taste so that children also like to eat it without much hesitation. Thanks a lot, Anamika. With Regards RAM

  • Muthusamy R profile image

    Muthusamy R 

    12 years ago from CHENNAI India

    Bittergourd has rich amount of Vitamins:

    vitamin A (6 μg ), vitamin B1 (Thiamine) (0.051mg), vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) (0.053 mg), vitamin B3 ((Niacin) 0.280 mg), vitamin B6 (0.041 mg), vitamin B9 (Folate) (51 μg ), and vitamin C (33.0 mg)

    and minerals:

    Calcium (9 mg), Iron (0.38 mg), Magnesium (16 mg), Phosphorus (36 mg), Potassium (319 mg), Sodium (6 mg) and Zinc (0.77 mg)

    The phytochemicals present in bittergourd include Lectins and Charantin. The two alkaloids – one of them is momordicine.

    No cucurbitous fruit has such wonderful combination of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Just by deep cooking or high microwave cooking we are destroying the nutrients. Is it worth? Please refer the following Websites for details:

  • einron profile image


    12 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

    Anamika S.

    The Chinese also eat bitter gourd. I wonder whether the bitter gourd or melon will lose its effectiveness when you boil or cook them too long.

    We do order bitter gourd in Chinese restaurants cooked with black beans and sliced pieces of beef. I do not mind the bitterness for probably it is the bitterness that cures some diseases.

  • Muthusamy R profile image

    Muthusamy R 

    12 years ago from CHENNAI India

    Bitter Gourd is considered as Kaya Kalpa in Ayurveda. Some physicians prescibe to consume 15 to 30 ml of bitter gourd juice to get relief from acute diabetes. By cooking the vegetable for longer duration we may loose most important bio-active ingredients. Microwave cooking also destroys most of the phytochemicals.

    The recipes are excellent. We should make people comfortable with the vegetable. It is very useful for them in many counts.

  • Amanda Severn profile image

    Amanda Severn 

    12 years ago from UK

    I have often seen this vegetable in our local Asian supermarket, but being ignorant of how to prepare it, I've never bought one. Now you've given me some ideas I might try one next time I see them.

  • Paraglider profile image

    Dave McClure 

    12 years ago from Worcester, UK

    I cut them in two longways and remove the seeds and seed-pulp. Then dice the halves quite small, boil them quickly in salt water, drain, rinse, drain again. Then cook them in an omelette. Still quite bitter, but the egg combines well. Thanks for the suggestions - variety is the key!


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