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16 July 2009

Karela with kachori masala - Bitter gourd made better

As a child, I didn't have the choice to avoid any foods. Whatever was made at home, I had to eat - and while at that time I hated the rules, I now realise that thanks to this, I appreciate all kinds of foods today.

Bitter gourd was one exception though at that time, where I would have the option to eat something else instead. My grandmother didn't have the heart to force a kid to eat this bitter vegetable. So when I started cooking myself, I would not be interested in buying it in the first place. However in the last few years, this one, like eggplant has gotten added to my weekly shopping list. Whether it's Pavakkai pitlah, Bitter gourd and ripe mango Ayurvedic curry or a dry spice-rich curry like the one below, it's really not that bad, especially when made with all kinds of spices. I usually don't like to drown a vegetable's original taste in spices, but something like bitter gourd really needs that kind of treatment - as the only bitter thing i like to eat as it is, is dark chocolate.

Bitter gourd is very very good for you. Especially if you want to control your blood sugar levels or you are after that flat belly. Here's what longevity expert Dr.Maoshing Ni has to say about bitter gourd -

A melon for natural weight loss
A traditional remedy for losing weight and helping treat diabetes is bitter melon, also known as bitter gourd or balsam pear. Looking a bit like a zucchini with a bumpy surface, its cleansing and mildly laxative properties flush the system of toxins and promote weight loss. Bitter melon contains vitamins A, B1, B3, and C as well as several phytonutrients—including antioxidants like lutein, lycopene, and zeaxanthin. It is a good source of dietary fiber, plus it has two times the beta-carotene of broccoli, twice the calcium of spinach, and double the potassium of bananas!
Surprisingly, only Indians and some other Asians are familiar with this melon / gourd. Indians do have a fascination for all kinds of gourds it looks like :)

For those of you who need an intro with this super vegetable - read about Bitter melon / gourd on Wiki
A more authentic source of info on the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center about it's anti cancer properties.

This is one recipe guaranteed to make you scratch karela from your hate list :) After all who doesn't like kachories, so any vegetable prepared this way will remind you of the beloved snack.

Bitter gourd made better

Kachori-masalewala Karela
Serves 3-4

Ingredients
3 medium sized bittergourds (bitter melon / karela / pavakkai)
1/4 cup moong dal soaked in hot water
1 - 2 tsp rice bran or any light cooking oil
Whole spices for tempering
1/2 tsp each of
Mustard seeds (rai)
Cumin seeds (jeera)
Fennel seeds (saunf)
Carom seeds (ajwain)
1/4 tsp of fenugreek seeds

Spice powders
Pinch of pure asafoetida
1 tsp of coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp or more of red chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 heaping teaspoon of dried mango powder (amchur) or 1 tsp of tamarind paste or 1 tbsp of lemon juice

Others
1 tsp of sesame seeds (optional)
1 tbsp of crushed jaggery
Salt to taste
Fresh coriander to garnish
Freshly scraped coconut for garnish (optional)
Directions
  1. Scrub and wash bitter gourds well. Top and tail them. Cut them open vertically. Scoop out all seeds and membranes inside. Slice them under a cm thin. If necessary, cut once more vertically to give smaller sized slices. I like to pressure cook them in a vessel without extra water for 7 minutes under pressure for fast, nutrient-loss free cooking. You can either microwave or boil the pieces in salted water. Once the cooker has cooled, remove and keep aside.
  2. In a non stick kadhai, heat oil and add asafoetida first. Immediately, throw in all the whole spices for tempering. Stir just until they start spluttering and changing colour, don't brown / burn any spices. Add the sesame seeds last if using, stir for a minute, until it starts spluttering.
  3. Add the moong dal soaked for about 15 minutes in hot water as it is, or coarsely ground. Stir along with the spices on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add 3/4 cup water to this along with all remaining spice powders/ pastes. Stir around for a minute. Cover and less the dal cook for around 5 minutes. We don't want it to turn mushy, just soft.
  4. Next add the cooked slices of bitter gourd, salt and jaggery. Stir well to coat with spices. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Adjust salt and red chilli powder after tasting.
  5. Garnish with fresh coriander. Serve hot with dal & rice or with chapatis / parathas and a bowl of yogurt or kadi (that's what I had for lunch).




Options
You could substitute the moong dal with 1/2 cup of dry roasted gram flour (besan / kadalaimaavu) to make it faster. In that case, just add it when you add the karela slices.
Same method works superbly with snake gourd (pudalankai)- will convert all gourd haters in one bite!
Another method to prepare this is to fill the cavity of one inch sized pieces of either gourd and shallow fry in oil. I don't have the luxury of the time nor the excess oil that the above method uses, so I stick to the low-oil sliced up one.

How to make bitter gourd less bitter

There are a variety of methods here. While I use none of this, as I believe draining the gourd of its bitter jucies reduces its healthful properties, you could use this, especially if you are a first timer with karela.
  1. Slice the gourd as described above the previous night and soak overnight in buttermilk or thinned yogurt with a pinch of salt. Cook next morning after draining well. Take care while you add the salt while cooking as the vegetable would have retained some amount of salt in the soaking process.
  2. Salt the slices with a tsp of salt and leave in a colander for half to one hour. Wash lightly before cooking to remove excess salt.
  3. There's another theory that says soaking in the water in which rice has been washed (starchy water) for a few hours will also remove the bitterness. I haven't tried this one though.

31 comments:

Gardenia said...

Nandita, my mouth waters, and I want that karela subzi RIGHT NOW. This looks like a really inspired recipe. Thanks!

bluespriite said...

Good to have this blog up and about again. Your sabzis are always fantastic. Will definitely try it.

Prozac said...

I'll agree that the stuff is incredibly healthy. Still doesn't make me think it looks any less unappetizing.

Nandita said...


Gowri - will wait for you to try and give your verdict :)

J-do let me know if you try!

Prozac - thanks for visiting and you are welcome to your views :)

Rajitha said...

nandita...you got me with the flat belly part!!...your plate with the roti, kadi and sabji looks great. How is the lil baby doing??

Sumi said...

Welcome back to your food blog! But I follow your baby blog these days, and love the posts about Atri! Its like lil Atri is growing right infront of my eyes :) My tons of love to your lil one.

Pari said...

Hi! A very interesting twist to a not so wanted vegetable. I am surely gonna try. Thanks for sharing.

notyet100 said...

This looks so yummy ,..gonna try this,..

Kamini said...

Hmm, I, too was made to eat karela as a child, and never cared for it. Now as an adult, I'm in charge - so, no more karela!! But, your recipe gave me pause - it looks really good, plus with its health benefits (which at my age I ought to care about), and your bitterness-reducing remedies, I might just give it a try.

radha said...

HI, I made this tonight and I loved it. My husband said he preferred my old way of making karela with onion in it which makes it sweeter. Maybe this one would work with onion as well?

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aquadaze said...

hey nandita, by the time I started blogging, you were on a break. I've made a couple of recipes from your blog (dhansak and soba noodles) with great results, so a big Thank you is due :)Hope to see you on my blog sometime

Nimmi said...

Hey Nandita,

I am a regular reader of your blog and tried out the karela subzi a couple of days back and it was my first time that I made and ate it and loved it. My husband definitely enjoyed the dish.

I had commented on the Cauliflower-Spinach-Pasta Casserole asking you a question.

I also tried out the Low Fat Banana Walnut Eggless Cake, Onion Rava Dosa & Spicy tomato Chutney, Keerai Milaguttal, Cabbage Curry & Breakfast Pancakes this whole week and really enjoyed making the dishes and of course, eating them too.

Thanks once again for writing and sharing the recipes !!

Cheers,

Nirmala Iyer
Santa Clara

AMIT said...

This is very delicious recipe.

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Deepan said...

Nice recipe. After knowing the health benefits of Bitter gourd i have starting loving it. On the health point of view, bitter gourd has loads of benefits. Bitter gourd is rich in vitamin A, B1, B2 and c and contains minerals like calcium, phosphorous, iron, copper and potassium. It aids purify blood tissue, enhances digestion, and stimulates the liver.


Bitter-Gourd

Praveen R. said...

Hi Nandita,

Thanks for all the brilliant recipes in your blog. I was just wondering - has WBB been discontinued? I havent heard about it in a while now.

Anushruti said...

Bitter gourd is one of those rarely like vegetables...but if cooked well can turn into a delicacy. I used to abhor it until a couple of years ago and now it is a favourite. Your recipe looks interesting.

Cynthia said...

Bitter gourd made better - OMG, I have to try this. BG is one of my favourite veggies.

Indu Subramanian said...

Hi Nanditha,
I love your blog, esp the tambrahm recipes.Please collect your award from my blog

anubhavati said...

Hi Nandita,

Your site in fact inspired me to start blogging...Do accept my awards from my blogsite.

Mani said...

Nandita
Your blog is one of the real pleasures of surfing the Internet (when I really should be working)!
The claim that Karela helps with Diabetes is really remarkable and true! Interestingly, one of my relatives here in the US isolated the active ingredient from Karela and in clinical studies proved its effectiveness in controlling diabetes..he even patented it! (United States Patent 6127338).

Sunita said...

Good to see that you seem to have settled in again. Thanks for this recipe. I've got a bumper crop of bitter gourd this year and I've run out of ways to make it tasty. Not my favouritevegetable!

nag said...

Good to have this blog up and about again.

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Anonymous said...

Hello,

I read your blog off and on but refer to it if I'm looking for TamBrahm recipes.
I saw the karela recipe on monday and since we had some karela ready (boiled in tamarind water), tried your recipe. Its a great hit and we will bring karela more just because of this recipe.
Thank you very much.

Gayatri
PS: hoping to try the keerai milogootal with methi soon.

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Gardenia said...

Tried it out, yes, and it was outstanding! What a brilliant idea. And so easy to make. Thanks ever for making my summer cooking so much more interesting.

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Gowri Mohanakrishnan said...

My last comment on this post is dated 11 months ago! Am going to make this today for lunch and I hope my guests will love it as much as we do!

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