Karela, the dreaded bitter melon of my childhood, was a favorite of my parents – my father, a deeply disciplined man, knew about the health benefits of the fruit, but at the time my brothers and I didn’t care.
Fast forward to my adult years, I began to see the light. Once balanced and tempered with other seasonings, bitter melon turns into a thing of beauty. It can be chopped up – peels, seeds and all – and made into sabzi, which is basically a cooked vegetable, with caramelized onions, ginger, tomatoes and sweet potatoes. A touch of cardamom or cinnamon can also offset the bitterness.