Oven Crisped Bitter Gourd {Kerala}

by Kiran on August 24, 2012 · 66 comments

in Baking, Indian, Sides, Vegetarian

What do you do when a planned trip to your favorite city in the world is postponed for a few more days?

Temporary solution?

I would just get a haircut to avoid pulling my hair out of frustration, and then come home to bake bitter gourds just to release the utter bitterness that is going on the insides.

I went too far this time, right?

Many of you would bake delicious brownies, cookies or even cakes during emotional turmoil. And I chose to bake oven crisped bitter gourd.

Something is definitely wrong with me.

Bitter gourd is well… bitter. It’s essential to peel the outer rough skin that has most of the bitterness. Marinating in some freshly ground spices, lemon and extra virgin olive oil definitely helps in developing more flavors that tames the bitterness.

Traditionally, its deep fried with a chickpea flour batter but I’m against deep frying to feed only 2 people.

Print This Recipe Print This Recipe


  • 6 medium bitter gourds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


  1. Using a peeler, peel away the hard outer skin of bitter gourds. Wash and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Slice and discard the ends. Slice 1/2 inch rounds and add it in a non-reactive bowl.
  3. Toss remaining ingredients with sliced bitter gourds and allow to marinate for 15 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 425F.
  5. Place marinated gourd slices on a baking sheet. Do not overcrowd.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes. Flip and bake for another 15 minutes or until golden crisp.
  7. Let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes before serving.

A few serving ideas for this deliciously crisped bitter gourds:

Serve it up with some chutney as an appetizer or as a side dish with rice, chapati, spiced lentils and a refreshing salad.

I’m motivated to bake something sweet this weekend. Promise.

Bon appetit!

Have you tried bitter gourds before? Anything bitter out there that is equally delicious?


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1 prernasphotographs August 24, 2012 at 11:04 PM

Absolutely loved this recipe, will try it soon 🙂

2 Kiran August 29, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Prerna — thank you so much and do let me know how it tastes 🙂

3 Margarita August 25, 2012 at 12:47 AM

Back on the Philippines, bitter gourds was one of my favorite vegetables. I am very sad that I can’t find it here… My mom would soak it in water to get rid of some of the bitterness. I love bitter gourds and absolutely love what you did here… 🙂
Margarita recently posted..Silken Tofu Chocolate Mousse

4 Kiran August 31, 2012 at 5:51 PM

Margarita — my mom does the same trick to remove bitterness. I’d avoid this step if you want to oven crisp it.

5 lizzie - strayed from the table August 25, 2012 at 3:11 AM

I would never eat bitter gourd again. I accidentally miss took it for a wintermelon which I needed for a soup. It was impossible to eat, the bitterness went through the pork too.
Well maybe deep-fried or baked bitter gourd would be ok?
lizzie – strayed from the table recently posted..Military History Museum & Pho 24, Ha Noi, Vietnam

6 Kiran August 31, 2012 at 5:54 PM

Lizzie — the key is to remove as much of the hard skin as possible. The skin stores major bitterness.

7 Rosa August 25, 2012 at 4:12 AM

An interesting recipe! That speciality looks really good and quite addictive. I’ve never had bitter gourd…



8 Kiran August 31, 2012 at 6:01 PM

Rosa — thanks! There’s abundance of unusual ingredients out there, that I need to try myself 🙂

9 shama August 25, 2012 at 4:35 AM

cute presentation….inviting
shama recently posted..PALAK PARATHA

10 Kiran August 31, 2012 at 11:56 PM

Shama — thank you!

11 Shannon | Just As Delish August 25, 2012 at 5:12 AM

oh I love fried bitter gourds, this is even better with oven baked. can’t wait to try
Shannon | Just As Delish recently posted..Creamy & Easy Fruit Sorbets

12 Kiran August 31, 2012 at 11:57 PM

Shannon — do try and let me know how it tastes 🙂

13 tania@mykitchenstories.com.au August 25, 2012 at 8:53 AM

Oh what a shame ..postponed still you got to eat delicious looking bitter gourd which I can assure you I would not be able to cook
tania@mykitchenstories.com.au recently posted..The Grounds of Alexandria

14 Kiran August 31, 2012 at 11:59 PM

Tania — a girl gotta eat, right? 😀

15 Jeanette August 25, 2012 at 8:56 AM

I’ve never had this variety of bitter gourd although I’ve eaten the Asian bitter gourd. It does take an acquired taste to enjoy these, but I do enjoy them. Will have to pick some of these up next time I’m at our local Indian market.
Jeanette recently posted..Asian Sesame Spinach Salad Recipe (Power Foods)

16 Kiran August 31, 2012 at 11:59 PM

Jeanette — do let me know how it tastes 🙂

17 Sanjeeta KK August 25, 2012 at 10:23 AM

I love spiced deep fried bitter gourd with a dash of jaggery.. oven frying seems a better option.
Sanjeeta KK recently posted..Baking | Two Healthy Eggless Chickpea Flour Cookies – Chocolate and Cardamom Flavoured

18 Kiran September 1, 2012 at 12:07 AM

Sanjeeta — I’ve never tried adding sweetness of sorts in this recipe. Very intriguing 🙂

19 Sammie August 25, 2012 at 3:34 PM

I’ve never had bitter gourds made this wayy!! It looks so amazing though!! Deep fried with some spice to it! Wow! And bitter gourd is so healthy for you too!
Sammie recently posted..Low-Calorie Banana Loaf Bread + Banana Bread Samwiches

20 Kiran September 2, 2012 at 2:36 PM

Sammie — these are healthier, without deep frying 🙂

21 Choc Chip Uru August 25, 2012 at 4:28 PM

My grandma lives by Kerala I swear and I have never been tempted to try ut until seeing your delicious recipe 😀

Choc Chip Uru
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22 Kiran September 2, 2012 at 2:37 PM

Uru — you’ve got to make her proud and make this recipe 🙂

23 Maureen | Orgasmic Chef August 26, 2012 at 1:28 AM

I’ve never eaten bitter gourd before and frankly just the word bitter makes my mouth go all dry. If YOU say it’s good to eat, I’d try it. 🙂
Maureen | Orgasmic Chef recently posted..Oreo Cookie Gelato and Win an Ice Cream Maker!

24 Kiran September 2, 2012 at 2:40 PM

Maureen — please do try it and let me know how it tastes! I’m a huge believer of healthy eating, bitter or otherwise 😀

25 Erica {EricaDHouse.com} August 26, 2012 at 7:17 AM

I have never tried a gourd in my life – but I would like to! Fall produce is still a few weeks away for us here but as soon as I see some popping up in our farmers market I’ll have to grab it to try this recipe!
Erica {EricaDHouse.com} recently posted..I ain’t scared

26 Kiran September 2, 2012 at 2:48 PM

Erica — we get bitter gourd year round. And I am not looking forward to “fall” produce just yet 😉

27 Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake August 26, 2012 at 8:19 AM

I don’t really like bitter gourd…the bitterness really puts me off, but perhaps it’s always been the way it was cooked. They are very nutritious though…maybe I will give it another go. 🙂
Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake recently posted..Universal Restaurant, Carlton

28 Kiran September 2, 2012 at 7:56 PM

Jenny — the key is to peel the outer hard skin to remove as much bitterness as possible 🙂

29 foodwanderings August 26, 2012 at 4:34 PM

Beautifully crisped. I went and looked at the temperature and it completely makes sense. Bitter gourd is an acquired taste but the up side is packed with nutrients. I should definitely give it another chance!

30 Kiran September 2, 2012 at 7:58 PM

Shulie — agree all the way! Let me know how it tastes, if and whenever you give it another chance 🙂

31 simon @ SoyRiceFire.com August 26, 2012 at 9:24 PM

Very interesting recipe! I have cooked with Chinese bitter melon a lot, but have not tried the type you used for your recipe. Really curious which variety is more bitter.

32 Kiran September 2, 2012 at 8:05 PM

Simon — chinese bitter melon is milder in comparison 🙂

33 Asmita August 26, 2012 at 10:56 PM

Hi Kiran,
This looks perfectly done. Would love to eat that with some hot dal-chawal.
Asmita recently posted..Quinoa Salad with Arugula

34 Kiran September 2, 2012 at 8:07 PM

Hi Asmita — you are right about dal-chawal 🙂

35 Suzanne August 27, 2012 at 1:01 AM

Wow, those gourd look gorgeous and the recipe looks wonderful with all those spices. Great recipe.
Suzanne recently posted..White Texas Sheet Cake

36 Kiran September 2, 2012 at 8:38 PM

Suzanne — thanks dear 🙂

37 Liren August 27, 2012 at 1:13 AM

It’s been years since Ive cooked bitter melon, but i do love it. That wasn’t always the case, but the flavor was definitely a taste I eventually acquired. I was taught to soak it in salt water, rinse and repeat to minimize the bitterness. But I have never tried it fried or oven baked…now I must!
Liren recently posted..Simple Sundays | Thai-Style Shrimp Curry

38 Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella August 27, 2012 at 6:17 AM

Absolutely gorgeous photos and I love the drip shot especially! 😀

39 Hotly Spiced August 27, 2012 at 6:50 AM

I’ve seen these in the shops but have been too afraid to buy them as I just don’t know what to do with them. How do you peel them when the outer skin is so knobbly? I love how you styled them in the paper xx
Hotly Spiced recently posted..The Dinner Party

40 DessertForTwo August 27, 2012 at 7:49 AM

I like salty & spicy food when I’m upset too! No brownies or cookies for me!

41 Nava Krishnan August 27, 2012 at 8:01 AM

Luckily my holiday went on as planned and I am in Norway after covering Denmark. Have another 2 days before heading home.

Bitter gourd is what I cook for other half very often, does wonders for his diabetic. I have never tried the oven crisped version, only fried ones. Certainly will be great chance and I can imagine my other half enjoying these crispy bitter gourd.

42 Sophie August 27, 2012 at 9:10 AM

A very alternative & appetizing snack! 🙂 Waw too! 🙂

Another must try! xxx
Sophie recently posted..Vegan banana, avocado & carob pudding!

43 Helene Dsouza I Masala Herb August 27, 2012 at 9:56 AM

nothing is wrong with u! dont worry, its perfectly normal. ^.^
I cook my karela the same way, just that I never thought of peeling the skin. Here in goa they fry it soo long till its crisp and dark, nearly burned. It’s quite healthy and useful for diabetes patients. Haldi has to be with karela, right? 😉

44 Nancy/SpicieFoodie August 27, 2012 at 11:20 AM

I would do the same as you:) It’s too dangerous for me to have sweets around a stressful time, I go overboard. Your recipe sounds like the perfect way to pass the time. Thanks for sharing and I hope your trip arrives soon:)
Nancy/SpicieFoodie recently posted..Mung Dhal Vadai, A Guestpost by Curry and Comfort

45 Angie@Angie's Recipes August 27, 2012 at 1:22 PM

I love BITTER GOURD! My mom used to cook them in a clay pot together with dried shrimps, tomatoes, mushrooms, etc. for the lunch. Just delicious. These oven crisped bites look and sound just as delicious!
Angie@Angie’s Recipes recently posted..Raw Energy Bars

46 Carolyn Jung August 27, 2012 at 1:37 PM

It’s one of the few veggies I never grew to love. My whole family eats it, just not me. I’ve tried it, too, but whoa, is it BITTER! But frying it is a twist I haven’t seen done to it. And everything tastes better, fried, right? 😉
Carolyn Jung recently posted..Fresh, Local Produce Delivered to Your Door & A Food Gal Giveaway

47 dixya August 27, 2012 at 2:36 PM

definately going to try! I love love love bitter gourd 🙂 hope your trips goes well.

48 Alyssa (Everyday Maven) August 27, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Kiran, I have never had Bitter Gourd but I bet I would love it since I tend to really enjoy bitter flavors. I need to keep my eye out for some and bookmark this recipe! And you are not strange at all – comfort food for me is stir-fried vegetables and tofu with a steamy garlic sauce. People think I am a complete loon for that 😉
Alyssa (Everyday Maven) recently posted..Spicy Shrimp + Artichoke Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce

49 ChopinandMysaucepan August 27, 2012 at 6:23 PM

Dear Kiran,

I love bitter gourd and usually stir fry them with pork but remove the seeds and blanch it in hot water before cooking it to remove the bitterness.

50 Russell van Kraayenburg August 27, 2012 at 6:58 PM

I’ve never tried Kerala. I’m quite curious now! This recipe looks scrumptious!
Russell van Kraayenburg recently posted..Grape Jelly Filled Honey Lemon Doughnuts

51 Tania @ A Perfect Pantry August 27, 2012 at 7:40 PM

I’ve never tried bitter gourd.. but it looks easy to use… Might have to grab one next time I’m at the market.
Tania @ A Perfect Pantry recently posted..Huevos Racheros Pizza

52 Honey What's Cooking August 27, 2012 at 11:52 PM

looks wonderful. i’ve never made kerele… but i recently ate my mom’s. she roasted them too, but your version is different. looks great.
Honey What’s Cooking recently posted..Blogging Break!

53 Tadka Pasta August 28, 2012 at 5:23 AM

Bitter but yes, delicious. There’s nothing quite like the karela, I think. I like to make mine khatta meetha, but this combination of flavors looks like it would work really well!
Tadka Pasta recently posted..Crunchy, Caramely Broccoli Rabe

54 Baker Street August 28, 2012 at 6:31 AM

Hhahaha! I certainly do not see myself making bitter gourd in a situation like this!! I am not really a big fan but I think this oven crisp recipe might change me! 🙂
Baker Street recently posted..#MuffinMonday: Brandied Orange Marmalade Muffins

55 anh@anhsfoodblog.com August 28, 2012 at 7:24 AM

I admitted I am not a big fan of bitter gourd. But cooking it this way is very promising!
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56 Viviane Bauquet Farre August 28, 2012 at 12:49 PM

Yum, Kiran! Sometimes, all a vegetable needs is a bit of roasting and a dash of spices to be cooked to perfection. I must say, these were cooked impeccably to achieve that wondrous golden-brown color.
Viviane Bauquet Farre recently posted..Boston lettuce with corn, fresh tomato vinaigrette and grilled zucchini skewers

57 Monet August 28, 2012 at 3:38 PM

Smile. This is what I love about you! You’re always doing the most inventive and flavorful things! Thank you for sharing this with me. I never would have imagined it. All the better! I hope you are doing well…and are on your way!
Monet recently posted..Lunchbox Brownies

58 Anita Menon August 30, 2012 at 12:02 AM

My mother makes a lot of these and absolutely love the flavours. Bitter gourd often underestimated but I am a big fan.

59 andrew August 30, 2012 at 1:39 AM

they say bitter gourd/melon can reverse people with diabetes type II, making them insulin independent. will baking it get rid of the health benefits of this magical gourd?

60 Nami | Just One Cookbook August 30, 2012 at 3:20 AM

What an awesome way to eat bitter gourd! In Japan, Okinawan (people in Okinawa island) enjoy this veggie but I never grew up eating it and I’ve only tasted one or two times till now. I saw them in a Chinese market before so I should grab one and give it a try! Love the presentation… looks like we are in a cafe or bistro!
Nami | Just One Cookbook recently posted..Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

61 Mary @ Fit and Fed September 2, 2012 at 1:24 AM

I see bitter gourds sometimes at the Asian grocery store but I’ve never tried them…. yet. I’m going to bookmark this recipe on Pinterest, though, because this recipe looks like the right introduction to them. Like you, I’m a lot more likely to bake than fry, and I like the accompanying flavors you’ve included.
Mary @ Fit and Fed recently posted..Trader Joe’s Super Spinach Salad

62 Bobbo September 21, 2012 at 8:26 PM

Reading about the benefits of Bitter Melon, I decided to try for first time. I juiced 1/2 a melon (no seeds) with a green apple and added stevia. The bitterness was covered by the stevia and was quite tolerable. I think I will try it with green tea, next. I felt good afterward.

63 Charul Ajmera May 31, 2013 at 4:39 AM

Doesn’t it taste bitter? Asking because I am skeptical to experiment with bitter gourd.. But I guess I am gonna try this one.
Charul Ajmera recently posted..Mango Salsa

64 PraSaad July 10, 2013 at 12:57 AM

Why did I not see this almost a year ago.. when it was posted.

I am hooked on to it.

Made a small improvization – to marinate, I leave it in the freezer for 20 mins.

Thanks for a simple and wonderful recipe.

65 Natural Cure July 31, 2015 at 1:47 AM

Great Karela is helpful to control diabetes and even some skin disorder

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