Loved by many, unknown to some and feared by a few, I was pleased when I came to Japan and discovered this lovely vegetable is eaten here too. I grew up with mixed ideas about Karela, Goya or Bitter Melon as it is known. I had only ever had in curries, sometimes very sweet and mushy, possibly to disguise the distinct bitter taste, other times crunchy and refreshing. One thing I noticed is that there are different varieties of this and used widely in Chinese and Okinawan dishes I really like the different ways it is used in this side of the world. Thinly sliced and raw in salads, stir-fried and stuffed are often how I cook use them and after a friend loving this curry I made last week I thought it might be a good curry to share. Fat ones, thin ones, furry ones, smooth skinned, there are a huge selection out there and I know the shinier the skins the fresher they are, so do look around and see what you can find.

Goya is super healthy, an uncle of mine used to have a glass of freshly squeezed juice every morning to help his diabetes. For anyone who has tried this, hardcore. I remember tasting it and wincing with such extremity, ooo bitter. Aside from this it has plenty of health benefits so worth trying and adding to the weekly shop.

When cooking with it, soaking or boiling the sliced goya in tamarind, sugar or salt can help remove some of the bitterness and depending on how crunchy you like it, you can get really creative with how you use it. This curry is quick to prepare and is great with potatoes as I often make it. Try it and see what you think!

View full recipe