Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Health Vegetable #1- Bitter Gourd

I love to use 'health vegetables' in my cooking and bitter gourd is among my Top 5 health vegetables. Bitter gourd also known as bitter melon or karela or kakarakaya is very good for your health as it contains Vitamins A, B1, B2 and C and also contains ample amounts of calcium, iron and potassium. The vegetable helps to purify our blood, stimulates the liver and enhances digestion.

My mother used to cook it regularly as she strongly believed in its ability to kill worms and purify your blood. Growing up I didn't have any difficulty finding a group of 'Bittergourd-haters' - almost everyone in my family was in it- my cousins, sisters, brothers and even grand moms. My mother always insisted we eat bitter gourd 2 times a months. She cooked it as a curry or as a pitla (with lentils). Somehow, it always tasted bitter!

I picked up a couple of bitter gourds last weekend when I was grocery shopping. I wanted to cook a not so bitter dish and that way I can use bitter gourds more often. I searched the Internet and came up with a version for Stuffed Bitter Gourd.

The dish tasted very good. It was tangy, sweet and retained very little characteristic bitterness from the gourd. Here is the recipe

Bitter gourd
Amchur powder
Chopped Onions
Ginger- garlic paste
Chopped cilantro leaves
Cumin Seeds
Red chilli powder

1. To prepare bitter gourd for cooking, wash thoroughly, then slit in half lengthwise (not completely as we have to stuff it) and scrape out the seeds.

2. In a saucepan, heat 3 teaspoons of oil, add cumin seeds and when roasted, add onions.

3. Fry the onions in the oil. The onions should be soft and tender and should taste sweet (this is important as it is going to offset the bitterness).

4. Add ginger garlic paste, add salt, red chilli powder and finally add 2 teaspoons of amchur powder.

5. Add cilantro leaves and saute one more time. Allow the mixture to cool down.

6. Carefully stuff the mixture in the bitter gourd. You can use a small string to tie the stuffed bitter gourd so that the filling doesn't come out when frying.

7. Add 5 teaspoons of oil, turn the heat to medium and drop the stuffed bitter gourd. Fry in slow heat, covered and changing the sides every 3 minutes.

8. Serve hot with rotis or rice.

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