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Fried bitter gourd with fresh cilantro and red chilis

Karela Chips (Spicy Fried Bitter Gourd)

  • Author: Spicepaw
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 3-4 1x
  • Diet: Vegan


Fried bitter gourd seasoned and salted to make the best karela chips. This is a great side dish for curry or any other spicy entree. #indianrecipes #spicyrecipes #vegetarian #vegan


Units Scale

400500 g (14 oz-18 oz) snake gourd or bitter melon (you can always substitute this with zucchini)

1 tsp sea salt

2 tsp Madras curry spice powder or chili powder

0.51 cup (64 g – 128 g) cornstarch

oil for deep frying


  1. Slice snake gourd lengthwise and cut into 0.5 cm (1/4 inch) pieces.
  2. Put in a colander and sprinkle with 1 tsp sea salt and mix.  Let sit for 45min to 1 hour to allow for all the excess water to drain away.  Squeeze out any water or, if you are like me and are using a salad spinner, spin out any excess water.
  3. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and add 2 tsp of the Madras curry spice powder and mix thoroughly until all the vegetables are evenly coated.
  4. Add cornstarch and mix, allowing the gourd to dredge and be thoroughly coated in cornstarch.
  5. Heat oil in oil in a large wok or deep fryer and fry until crispy and golden (should be around 5 min).
  6. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon or spatula, drain the excess oil on paper towels and transfer to a bowl.  Garnish with slices of lemon.  If you are substituting zucchini for gourd, you may want to sprinkle some additional salt and spice on top of the fried chips for added flavor (again, if needed).


  1. Since not everyone can conveniently obtain snake gourd or bitter melon, then you can always substitute zucchini for it or even try out plain old cucumber.
  2. Snake gourd or bitter melon is best for this recipe as it best picks up the flavors of the salt and spice but zucchini can be substituted if you are keen on making this dish.  The zucchini retains more moisture so you may need to add an extra dusting of salt and spice after is has been fried.
  3.  I like to use a special homemade Madras curry powder to season the karela chips but you can use any spice mix you prefer.  Typically it is seasoned with red chile powder but feel free to experiment with new flavors.
  4. Cornstarch is king and works best for sticking to the wet vegetable and getting that crispy coating.  I add about 1/2 cup-1 cup of cornstarch to the veg and let it sit for about 5 minutes while the oil gets hot which allows it to properly dredge.
  • Prep Time: 60
  • Cook Time: 5
  • Category: Sides, Vegetable
  • Method: deep frying
  • Cuisine: Indian

Keywords: bitter gourd, zucchini, karela chips, Indian recipes, spicy recipes, vegetarian, vegan

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