Cook's Hideout: Bengali Bittergourd Curry with Poppy seeds (Uchche Posto Jhuri)

May 17, 2011

Bengali Bittergourd Curry with Poppy seeds (Uchche Posto Jhuri)

I was never a picky eater, but when I started thinking about how I felt about bitter gourd when I was young, I don’t have a distinct memory of either liking it or disliking it. May be my mom wasn’t feeding it to her kids, because she knew we wouldn’t like it or maybe she masked the bitterness and made us eat it, I have no memory whatsoever.

But one distinct memory I have was eating stuffed karela at our dear neighbors place; karelas were stuffed and tightly closed with kitchen twine and then sautéed until golden brown (may be in a batter—don’t remember that), but I remember them just melting in my mouth with no bitterness at all. I guess that was when I started really noticing and liking this bitter veggie.

I don’t mind slight bitterness anymore, but personally I try to take out as much of that bitter taste as I can by pre-cooking the gourd with yogurt or tamarind and then using the veggie as needed. For today’s Bengali dish for BM#5, I picked this delicious bitter gourd dish from Sandeepa’s Bong cookbook. I have to say this is one of the best karela dishes I have ever made. It’s a dry curry and the poppy seeds coat the bitter gourd and give them an almost creamy taste when eating. A must try for all Karela fans.

Did I mention the original recipe only has 5 ingredients, but with my pre-cooking the ingredient list grew to a whopping 6 ingredients that includes salt too.

Bengali Karela Curry1

Sandeepa's Original recipe here.
Bitter gourd/ Karela/ Kakarakaya – 4 medium, diced
Poppy seeds – 3tbsp
Dry Red chilies – 3
Yogurt – 2tbsp
Salt – to taste
Mustard seeds – 1tsp

  • Grind poppy seeds in a spice grinder or small food processor either dry or with very little water.
  • Mix yogurt with chopped karela, ½ tsp salt and ¼ cup of water in a microwave safe container; loosely cover and microwave for 5-6 minutes or until the veggie is almost tender, but not completely cooked. Drain and rinse. Squeeze the water completely from the veggie and keep aside.
  • Heat 2tbsp oil in a sauté pan, add mustard seeds and once they start to platter, add the cooked karela and sauté on medium-low flame until completely cooked through and slightly browned around the edges.
  • Add the poppy seed powder or paste; mix well so that the veggies are completely coated with the powder.
  • Season with salt and cook for 5 more minutes until the flavors meld. Serve with steamed rice and enjoy.
Let's check out what my fellow marathoners have been cooking up today:
Curry in a hurry under 30 min: Priya Suresh, Srivalli, Usha
Seven Days of Colorful Dishes Kid's Special: Vardhini,
Seven Days of Indian Sweets: Harini, Suma, Veena
Seven Days of Regional Specials: Aarthi, Kalyani, Pavani, Shylaja
Summer Coolers: PJ, Vaishali
Under 15 mins Quick Breakfast: Sushma Pinjala


  1. Looks good. But I happen to be one of those karela haters :) But I can try making this for my husband!

  2. I like bitter gourd and don't mind the bitterness at all.. Will try it very soon.

  3. Classic and delicious recipe.. looks so tempting dear.. thanks for the awesome recipe :)
    Indian Cuisine

  4. First time to ur space. lovely collection of recipes and neat of putting together. Happy blogging.

  5. I love karela especially with nice recipes.This one I am bookmarking.Completely new to me.Thanks.

  6. Love this combination of bitter guard and poppy seeds. Will surely try this
    South Indian Home

  7. a new bittergourd recipe.. Its a little like Aloo Posto right??
    Shoudl try out soon !

  8. Pavani, This is regarding your question on Kancheepurm idli.Boiled rice is nothing but parboiled rice/idli rice.
    You can also make this with idli rava just as we make normal idlis
    South Indian Home

  9. I am one karela lover and I am really glad to have found a new cool recipe to try!
    US Masala

  10. looks good....But i am not a fan of bitter gourd..will definelty try it out

  11. I love bitter gourd .. nice recipe using poppy seeds.


  12. Thats a delicious curry,love bittergourd, my fav veggie in any form..

  13. Karelas are one of my fav. n any recipes for it are always welcome n this one is really simple ..looks good!!

  14. Looks so delicious ....just yum

  15. The posto dishes are so delish! it leaves you wanting for more :P good one.

  16. As Harini said, I too am not a karela lover though my husband is. I will give it a try since you are somehow convincing me that it is not bitter even though it is not fried or cooked in loads of jaggery -tamarind sauce. :)

  17. We are a huge fan of bittergourd.I prepared this and packed it for hubby's lunch yesterday. He loved it and asked me to prepare it once again this week.Thanks for sharing this delicious curry..

  18. looks delicious and very simple one ...

  19. Bitter gourd looks great..lovely colour pavani

  20. As much as I hate Karela, we don't squeeze out the veggies to take out the bitterness. Guess if my Mom did that, I would have had more Karela. But Bengalis usually love to retain the bitterness in the bitter gourd.

    But this version will be loved by my daughter. I loved your addition of yogurt


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