Mamta's Kitchen

Forum Thread - Bitter melon/Karela

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Aspiring Cook, on 29/11/2017 10:47pm

Hi! I've been reading lately about the health benefits of bitter melon (karela), and am interested in preparing some. But I've come across some pretty frightening warnings like:

"The red arils that cover the seeds of bitter melon are poisonous to humans. Consuming this part of the fruit causes a reaction that includes vomiting, diarrhea and possibly death"

And, "All parts of bitter melon are toxic when consumed in large quantities."

Are there special precautions that need to be taken when preparing it? And once it's cooked, is it safe for children to eat? How much is usually eaten?

Thank you in advance for any info on this!

Mamta, on 1/12/2017 07:09am

Hello Aspitingcook

Karela is quite bitter and eaten in small quantities, generally. But I love it and often eat it in decent amount :).

I have never heard of it being injurious to health. In fact, it is used a lot in Ayurvedic medicine. It is good for diabetics, a fact that you have reminded me of. I must eat it more regularly ;)!

The spices and ingredients that are added to it during cooking, are there to reduce the bitterness and they succeed, if used correctly. I have a few recipes on this website, why not try them one by one? My current favourites are;

Karela with Imli and Stuffed . There are several other recipes here.

The seeds are only covered in a red, slimy covering, when it gets too mature/old, the seed stage. Seeds become tough and inedible anyway, so have to be removed and thrown away. Most Indians would not eat karelas at that stage, because it isn't tasty. Mind you, you wouldn't eat most vegetables at seed stage anyway, would you?

I must say that I did not know about this side effects, thank you for alerting me. May be that is why no one amongst Indians eats karelas that are too old/mature.

Aspiring Cook, on 1/12/2017 02:38pm

Thanks very much, Mamta! I feel more confident about trying it now that you explained it to me.

You're right about the "seed-stage" of other vegetables; it's interesting how over-ripeness can play such an important role in edibility!

Thank you again, I look forward to trying the recipes you linked!

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