A Bitter Melon Recipe – Vegetarian and Gluten-free

Bitter melon, or better known as karela where I come from (Guyana, South America) brings back fond memories of Saturday meals, feeling healthy and having youthful fun.

This was a staple when were kids. Every Saturday we had to line up to drink a cup of bitter juice. We didn’t have medicals, dentals etc. what we had was hand-down-through-the-ages home remedies for every ache and health issue one could possibly imagine. This was my least favourite drink.

What I will always love is the taste of fried karela. The following recipe turned out so well that all I kept saying while eating was “wow” repeatedly.

I think even my body was shocked that my brain could create such a thing.

The trick was roasting the bitter melon until the natural sugars were caramelized, which counteracted the bitter elements, and gave a lovely balance to the dish.

Health Benefits of bitter melons include:

packed with vitamins and minerals (the usual suspects)

lowers blood sugar levels (and releases insulins when needed)


Antibacterial and anti fungal features

Haemorrhoid relief

lowers risk of gout

BEST OF ALL! Immune system health

This is a karela/bitter melon on the branch, you will find them in most corner grocers and definitely at the superstores. Very difficult to find local and/or organic, but you will find the ones that are conventionally grown in Mexico.

Roasted Bitter Melon with Caramelized Onions and Crisp Garlic

Step One:


3 medium sized Bitter Melon, washed, cleaned (innards scraped out and discarded) and sliced into 1/2 inch thick semi-cricles

2 plugs Greek olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon finely minced garlic


In a large, flat baking pan, drizzle the olive oil and dot with the butter. Layer the bitter melon in the pan, sprinkle the salt and pepper evenly over everything. Place in the oven at 400 degrees and roast for 20 minutes. Remove, sprinkle the garlic and toss well, spread out again and replace in the oven to roast for another 15 minutes. Remove and set aside.

It should be crunchy with brown bits where the natural sugars were caramelized, the garlic should be crisp and dark brown.

Step Two


1 plug Greek olive oil

1/2 tablespoon butter

1 large onion, sliced thinly

1/4 natural vegetable bouillon


Heat the oil, butter and onions and cook slowly until well and truly caramelized. Crumble the bouillon and sprinkle in the onions, mix well. Now take the roasted bitter melon and mix well in the onion pan, let it cook for 5 minutes until sizzling. Remove from the heat. Serve with rice and other vegetables for a delightfully memorable vegetarian and gluten-free meal.

Brought to you with love,