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The Indian Autoimmune Paleo Kitchen: Part 3 – Recipe: Bitter Gourd with Sweet Potatoes

Rinita writes about healthy living in India and has been buying organic food ingredients since 2017.

Bitter Gourd-Sweet Potato (Karela Shakarkand)

Bitter Gourd-Sweet Potato (Karela Shakarkand)


Bitter gourd has been revered for centuries in the standard Indian kitchen despite its bitter taste. The primary reason behind this is that it is packed with nutrients. Rich in Vitamins A and C, this long, green, and pointed vegetable is a boon for your immune system.

Because of its bitter taste, however, bitter gourd is usually prepared with potatoes. The unique taste of potatoes helps dilute some of the bitterness, if not all of it. You could prepare bitter gourd just on their own, but the pre-cooking preparations required to reduce the bitterness takes an additional half-hour. Alas, you are on AIP and cannot have potatoes! Well, sweet potatoes to the rescue.

Although they do not taste exactly like white potatoes, sweet potatoes do bring in their distinctive flavors. Mildly sweet and yet starchy, they might be used as a substitute for white potatoes in most dishes. What’s more, is that they are, too, nutritionally rich. Vitamins A and C lead the pack of nutrients in sweet potatoes, followed by fiber and Vitamin E.

So, let us quickly delve into the recipe to know how to prepare this mouthwatering, AIP-compliant vegetable main dish.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

30 min

40 min

1 hour 10 min

4 Servings

What Do You Need?

Customary to most AIP recipes, this one needs few ingredients, most of which should be already available in your kitchen. If you need guidance on how to set up your kitchen with AIP-compliant ingredients, feel free to refer to Part 1 of this series. For the present recipe, here are the things you would need.

  • 500 grams bitter gourd, chopped into thin semi-circles
  • 250 grams sweet potatoes, thinly sliced
  • 10 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Himalayan salt
  • 1 teaspoon table salt

Notes on the Ingredients

Refer to Part 2 of the series to learn about

  • how to detox your vegetables before chopping if not using the organic variety
  • the use of black pepper in AIP
  • substituting olive oil with coconut oil

How Should You Make It?

Let us now get down to the making of this yummy and simple vegetarian/vegan dish. The steps are written in detail to ensure there are no ambiguities, hence the number of steps seems large. In reality, the recipe is quite simple to prepare. Here is the method to follow.

  1. In separate bowls, soak, clean, and drain the chopped pieces of sweet potatoes and bitter gourd
  2. Heat a pan until it is smoking hot
  3. Add table salt and stir it for a minute on high flame
  4. Throw the salt away
  5. Remove the pan from the heat
  6. Add the sweet potatoes
  7. Add half of the olive oil and coat the potatoes well
  8. Return it to medium-high flame
  9. Add about ½ tsp of Himalayan salt and a dash of the turmeric powder
  10. Mix thoroughly and allow it to cook
  11. In about 10 minutes, the potatoes should be well done (make sure your stir the pan occasionally)
  12. Take the cooked potatoes out in a bowl
  13. Remove the pan from the heat again
  14. Add the bitter gourd pieces
  15. Add the remaining olive oil and coat well
  16. Return the pan to medium-high flame
  17. Add the rest of the Himalayan salt, the remaining turmeric powder, and the ground black pepper
  18. Stir the mixture for about 5 minutes
  19. Lower the flame, cover, and cook, stirring from time to time
  20. In about 20-25 minutes, the bitter gourd should be thoroughly cooked, which is when you add the cooked sweet potatoes
  21. Stir well to maintain uniformity of the spices
  22. Cover the pan and place it on low heat for another couple of minutes
  23. Done!
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Serve as A Side Dish or An Appetizer

Due to its bitter taste, this dish is best served as an appetizer. This is because if you consume something before you have eaten this item, it is likely to taste even more bitter than it otherwise would have.

In some parts of India, the traditional bitter gourd plus potato dish is a mandatory welcome item when guests are around. It is said that having this dish early on during a meal enhances the taste buds for whatever items follow.

Having said that, some people have tongues that are not that overly sensitive to the bitter taste. For them, this could be consumed as a main vegetable dish or a side dish, along with some kind of gluten-free grains that you may have reintroduced. So, there you go – cook, eat, relish!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Rinita Sen


Rinita Sen (author) on March 26, 2020:

Thank you Mitara. Do try and let me know how you liked it.

Mitara N from South Africa on March 18, 2020:

Looks like a lovely dish, will definitely be trying it

Rinita Sen (author) on October 14, 2019:

Hi Mr. Muralikrishna - those are both great additions, however, jaggery is not compliant to the AIP diet. Tamarind is allowed, so, yes thank you for the tip. Bitter gourd needs additions, but yes, you can also make them individually if you squeeze out the bitter juice beforehand. Thank you for reading and commenting.

Halemane Muralikrishna from South India on October 14, 2019:

Hi Ms Rinita, We add a piece of jaggery in place of potato. We also put tamarind while boiling. Bittergourd recipes need rich ingredients to suppress bitterness, isn't it?

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