Crispy Karela Fry is bitter gourd chips fried in cooking oil with spices till it becomes crisp. This particular dish is multi-faceted. My point is you can have it for lunch and dinner. Plus you can carry the same in the office tiffin box or school lunch box. Further, the crispy karela fry acts as an accompaniment or a side dish.
Why am I referring to it as an accompaniment? Because it is dry. Yes, the crispy bitter gourd chips are dry, mildly spicy, evenly fried and less bitter. You can have it with plain dal chaval or kadhi khichdi. Not only this, but you can also pair the crispy karela fry with matar pulao.
If you want to eat it with roti or paratha, then lachha paratha is ideal. I won’t recommend plain roti, bajre ki roti or even jovar ki roti. Nope, they aren’t appropriate choices here. Since both the karela fry and roti are dry, they will be difficult to chew and further digest. Lachha paratha with green chutney, lachha pyaz and mango pickle is an excellent serving suggestion.
With this in mind, let’s begin making it in the first place. Here we go.
How to Eliminate the Bitter Taste of Karela?
Cooking the crispy karela fry is a breeze. But wait. The biggest challenge is to eliminate the bitter taste of the bitter gourd. Yeah, that’s quite a thing, and it will give you a tough time. Hence, here’s the solution.
Shallow Frying Bitter Gourd Chips
Fry the chips in cooking oil evenly until the colour changes. The dark green natural colour will fade away gradually – that’s the break-even point. The difference in colour shows that the chips are properly fried. But, wait! There’s something we need to understand about bitter gourd and its bitterness.
The frying process won’t altogether remove the bitterness. Nope. There’s still some bitterness left. So you will keep frying the chips assuming that you will remove the bitterness. But that’s not going to happen. Your chips will eventually burn. So how will you remove it?
First, don’t over fry them to remove the bitterness. The remaining bitter taste will be taken care of by other ingredients. For instance, we have peanut powder and desiccated coconut. Both the ingredients are flavourful, having their taste and fragrance. They will more or less neutralise the bitter taste.
Remove Skin and Deseed
Another method I have witnessed is removing the skin and seeds of the bitter gourd. Again, it is because they carry a strong bitter taste. Doing this is legitimate, but then you are throwing away vital nutrients. On the contrary, if you fry the chips thoroughly until they change colour, you won’t have to worry about peeling the skin or deseeding.
I never peel bitter gourd skin unless it is unavoidable. Therefore, follow the shallow frying method.
Cooking Bitter Gourd on Low Flame
It is vital. The धीमी आंच पर पकाएं is an ideal mode of cooking. This way, you will prevent it from burning. On the other hand, it will gradually remove the bitter taste also. Cooking on high flames or speeding the process won’t serve any purpose. When you cook on low flames, the ingredients get space to release their flavours. High flames will quickly cook and then burn if not monitored. Therefore, keep the flame low.
Apart from low flame, there’s one more thing. Do not add water. Our crispy karela fry is a dry dish. There’s no scope for making gravy or adding liquid ingredients other than cooking oil. If your bitter gourd chips or masala sticks are at the bottom of the pan, add cooking oil. In short, cooking oil is the only permitted liquid ingredient here.
Crispy Karela Fry Extra Shots
- Fry bitter gourd chips only in cooking oil. Butter and ghee are not permissible.
- Keep stirring while frying the chips; else, they may burn, making them more bitter.
- Shallow frying is what we will be doing. Deep frying is not required.
- Cut the chips thin so that you can fry them properly. Thick ones will take time.
- Please do not cover the vessel or leave it unattended while frying the chips.
- Avoid dry red chilli paste. Instead, use green chilli paste for a spicy taste.
- Just like red chilli powder, avoid tomatoes. That’s not an ideal ingredient here.
- Chop onions into small pieces. Do not make onion puree. We need pieces, not puree.
- Roast peanuts and make a coarse powder. You will like the nutty flavour.
- Add some cooking oil if bitter gourd chips burn or stick to the pan. Avoid water.
Crispy Karela Fry FAQs
We have covered a lot of essential details about crispy karela fry above. To help you a little more, here are some frequently asked questions. I hope this helps.
How is crispy karela fry different from stuffed karela (bharwa karela)?
Karela fry and stuffed karela are quite different. The items used, the cooking method and the taste and texture are distinct. For example, one is a fried side dish, whereas the other is cooked with stuffing inside.
Shall I peel off the bitter gourd skin & deseed it?
You can do that if the bitter taste bothers you too much. However, shallow frying the bitter gourd chips will also remove the bitterness. Avoid deep-frying the bitter gourd chips in hot oil.
Can I add whole roasted peanuts instead of powder?
Yes, you can add whole roasted peanuts instead of peanut powder. Both whole peanuts and peanut powder work well in this recipe. You can use either of them or both at the same time.
Why have you added desiccated coconut?
I love the fragrance of coconut oil present in the dry coconut. Moreover, whether flakes or grated, dry coconut contains a mellow sweetness; the bottom line is dry coconut will help reduce the intensity of the bitter taste of karela.
Why my bitter gourd chips are dark and hard after frying?
There are two reasons why your chips are dark and hard. First, you have over fried them for a longer time. Second, instead of shallow frying, you have deep-fried. Both ways, your chips are going to burn and become hard.
What size of karela should I use?
It would be best if you went with small and medium-size bitter gourds. They are the best choice when you want to make dry karela dishes. Further, they are also perfect for making stuffed karela recipes. On the contrary, larger size bitter gourds are tricky to handle. Therefore, I always select soft bitter gourd immaterial of the size.
Can I add curd to the crispy karela fry?
No, adding curd will make the mixture soggy. Your crispy bitter gourd chips won’t hold the shape & taste. Refrain yourself from using any wet or liquid ingredients. The whole idea is to make crispy chips, and curd will ruin it. Hence, don’t add curd.