Bitter gourd. The name usually sends shivers down the spine of many . Nope not the scary kind but the Yikes! So bitter kind that I do not want to attempt it at home kind !
Sources quote that ” Momordica charantia” known as bitter melon, bitter gourd, bitter squash or balsam-pear in English, has number of uses that are thought to be beneficial treatment of diabetes, fever and infections. Widely grown in the Indian sub continent, it is believed to have made it way to China from there. But we love it here at home here. I know 🙂 Cooked the right way it is delectable one, I say . Back in the golden days of my youth it was a staple part of the diet for us when we grew up. I make it a gazillion ways , but this particular one is popular as well as it could be simply rolled up in the flat bread of your choice.
There are a couple of ways to reduce the bitterness if one would like to do so. Scraping the skin helps as well as salting the cut slices and removing the water extruded . I have chosen to retain the natural flavor and the bitterness as I also believe it retains the maximum health benefits that way.
Near crispy slices of bitter gourd skillet cooked to retain its natural flavor with a mélange of dry spices and mix. The result is truly delectable. A perfect accompaniment for soft rotis and mild dal fry and steaming bowl of rice.
Prep time : 10 minutes Cooking time : 20 min Serves : 4-6
- Bittergourd or Bitter melon : 5-6
- Turmeric Powder / Haldi : 1 tsp.
- Amchur or Dried Mango Powder : 1-1.5 tsp.
- Jeera/ Cumin powder : 1/2 tsp.
- Dhania/ Coriander seeds powder : 1/2 tsp.
- Garam Masala : 1.5 tsp.
- Red chili powder : 1- 1.5 tsp. – Depends n your spice level
- Besan / Chickpea flour : 1 Tbsp.
- Powdered Jaggery/ Brown sugar: 1 tsp. ( optional)
- Mustard seeds : 1/2 tsp.
- Split Urad Dal : 1 tsp.
- Hing / Asafoetida: A generous pinch
- Curry leaves : 5-6 . Washed well, patted dry and in pieces.
- Oil of your choice : 1 Tbsp.
- Salt : 1 tsp. + extra if needed.
- Fresh Chopped Cilantro for garnish.
Preparing the Karela/ Pavakkai/Melon:
- Wash the vegetable very well and pat dry to remove the moisture from the skin. Trim the ends.
- Slice down the center and remove the spongy seed center mass.
- Slice each half further into thin strips or you can choose to retain the crescent shape .
- Thinly slice the strips to yield half-inch pieces.
- Keep aside to be cooked next.
- In a big flat skillet ( preferably well seasoned cast iron or non stick ) add the tablespoon of oil and let it heat up. You do not want this smoking so it should only take a couple of minutes.
- Add the Asafoetida, it should sizzle and then add the mustard seeds. These will splutter. Add the Split Urad dal next and let it brown for a minute or so.
- Add the haldi or turmeric powder next.
- Now add the bitter gourd pieces and toss it so the oil is coated evenly. Let it cook for about 6-8 min. You should see them browning about .
- Add in the salt now and cook for another 2-3 minutes. You will see hints of moisture and possibly some more because salt will cause to extrude water from the vegetable.
- Add the amchur powder, garam masala, dhania powder, jeera powder and chili powder. Toss the vegetables so they coat it evenly and cook for another 5 minutes or so. At this stage if you check the vegetable, a piece would nearly split in half as it should be cooked to near doneness.
- Add the sugar if using at this stage and toss it one more time.
- Finally sprinkle the besan over the vegetable and cook for another 4 -5 minutes.
- The final stage will ensure you do not taste the raw nature of chickpea flour.
- Taste for spices and salt and then finally garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and serve hot with rice, rotis and dal.
If the bitterness of the melon makes it an unpalatable and unpopular choice in your household perhaps you can adopt one of the 2 methods cooking it so you can definitely introduce it in your weekly cuisine.
- Scraping the skin and removing the seeds from the center definitely reduces bitterness quotient for sure.
- The other method popularly used is to salt the raw cut pieces of karela and set aside for about 15 minutes or so. This will cause the water to extrude out and you can squeeze out the pieces party dry and use for cooking.
- No Amchur powder? : Alternatively a tsp. of tamarind paste dissolved in a about a Tbsp.of water can be used.
- No Garam Masala? : Try using Sambar powder instead.