Strange how it is that the foods that are really good for you, never rate very high on taste. They are either too boring, too slimy, too rubbery or in the case of the bitter gourd…too bitter! By the way, did you know that bitter gourd is actually a fruit? Or that this bitter beauty is a close cousin of zucchini and cucumber? The bitter gourd is packed with health benefits; it reduces blood sugar, its good for your cholesterol, it is rich in fibre and it may aid in weight loss.
But how does one get past its bitterness? One way, is frying it but then you tend to lose out on the nutrients and say goodbye to any weight loss dreams. Or you may stuff it with something yummy, tie it with a thread and again…fry it. Too time consuming? Then try the following simple, quick and delicious karela subzi recipe and I promise, if you do not overnight turn into a bitter gourd fan, you will be able to easily incorporate this healthy fruit in your menu.
3 medium sized bitter gourd, cut into small rectangular pieces ( discard the pith and seeds)
1 big onion, chopped roughly
1 big tomato, thinly chopped
1 slit green chilli
1 and a half tablespoon jaggery
½ tablespoon tamarind
1 teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
Pinch of turmeric
Salt to taste
Oil as required
Rinse the bitter gourd a few times with water then cut vertically, removing the pith and seeds. Cut it into thin small rectangles. If you wish, you can add some salt to the bitter gourd at this stage and set aside for a couple of minutes. Be sure to throw away the resultant juice and wash the bitter gourd well before cooking it. Also, if using salt here, taste the dish when it is just about done and only add salt, if required. In a glass bowl, soak the jaggery and tamarind in water. You can adjust the proportion of jaggery and tamarind, depending on how tangy you want your bitter gourd.
In a pan, heat some oil. Add onions and saute for a few minutes till they turn pink. Next, add the bitter gourd, giving it a good stir and then cover and cook on low flame for 7-10 minutes. Once the bitter gourd lose their distinctive green colour, add in the tomatoes and all the spices. Check for salt and add accordingly, cover and cook on low flame. Open and stir after 5 minutes; add a 2 tablespoons of water then cover and cook again till the oil oozes out from the sides and the bitter gourd and tomatoes are soft and cooked. Then add the tamarind pulp and jaggery (discarding the used tamarind pulp and sees) to the sabzi. Give it a quick stir, cover and cook for 2-3 minutes. Switch off the flame, sneak a taste and wonder why you always gave such a wide berth to the lovely bitter gourd!