Bitter Melon With Nigella Seed & Coconut Milk



    • 1 pound (about 2 medium) bitter melon (karela)
    • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
    • 3 large sweet onions, chopped
    • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
    • 1 tablespoon turmeric
    • 1 tablespoon nigella seeds
    • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
    • 1 teaspoon garam masala
    • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 teaspoons amchur
    • 1 tablespoon agave or honey
    • 1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces (about 2 cups)
    • 2 cups coconut milk, plus more if needed
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    • 1 pound large shrimp (about 25)
    • Basmati or brown rice or Indian flatbread, for serving


    • Trim the ends of the bitter melon, cut them in half, and scoop out seeds and pulp from the center.
    • Thinly slice melon halves, put them in a colander, and sprinkle with salt. Toss to coat, and cover for 1 hour. This will take the bitterness out.
    • Heat oil in a large heavy skillet and cook onions for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until they are nice and brown. Add turmeric, nigella, coriander, garam masala, garlic, amchur, agave and potatoes. Cook for another minute.
    • While onions are cooking, squeeze out salted water from the bitter melon, and discard the water. Add in bitter melon and 2 cups of coconut milk. Stir to coat.
    • Cover and simmer gently about 10 minutes or until the potatos are tender. Stir in the shrimp. Add more salt, coconut milk, and/or water, if desired.
    • Remove from heat and garnish with cilantro. Serve with basmati or any type of white or brown rice or Indian flatbread.
    Nirmala Narine is the host of Nirmala's Spice World, a culinary adventure that takes the viewer into a world of exotic spices from around the globe. Nirmala was born in Guyana, South America to parents of Indian descent. Nirmala’s grandfather, an Arya Samaj Hindu Pandit, began teaching her yoga when she was just two years old and entrusted to her ancient Ayurvedic spice recipes, techniques, and treatments to heal the body from within. These simple lifestyle practices were further enriched by her endless discoveries on her many extensive travels around the globe. Nirmala has visited more than 137 countries and counting. At the age of 6, she began to cook in a tiny kitchen with no running water or electricity. When she was 11, her family immigrated to New York City. Today, Nirmala is a sought-after speaker, author, consultant and expert on global food, culture, flavor, fragrance and lifestyle trends. Nirmala has been featured in the NY Times, on CNN, and as the Country Living “Woman Entrepreneur of the Year,” and she is also a frequent guest on The Martha Stewart Show, the CBS Early Show, and the Today Show. When she is not working, she shares her love of Vastu Shastra, farming, and ancient civilization at the American Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian, and several public schools and orphanages in both hemispheres.