Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Stuffed Bittergourd (Stuffed Karela/Pavakai/Bittermelon)

Stuffed Bittergourd (Stuffed Karela/Pavakai/Bittermelon)

It may sound surprising to some when I tell them that I was very excited when I found bitter gourd in the place where I live. Well, obviously it does not grow here but an Asian grocery was opened almost a year after we moved and they started importing this lovely vegetable. I love this vegetable despite its bitterness. I think the fact that it is bitter gives it a lot of potential in terms of how many different ways it can be prepared to make it yummy. I should admit that if anything is overly bitter, I would not like it but a touch is fine. I saw this recipe here and found it quite interesting. I made some very minor tweaks to suit my taste. The basic recipe is dry but I thought it may be worthwhile making something a bit more saucy so it can go well with bread as well. No pictures of that improvement (all gone before the clicks) but have given quick and easy steps at the end of the main recipe.

2-3 bittergourd (preferably not very long ones)
1onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon besan/chickpea flour (optional)
1 teaspoon sugar
2-3 green chillies, chopped
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon Amchur powder (dried mango powder)
½-1 teaspoon chilly powder
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon sambar powder (optional)
Turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Cooking oil (sunflower/vegetable/groundnut)

Using a knife, scrape the surface of the bittergourd just so that it becomes more even. Slit the bittergourd along its length keeping its ends intact. Carefully remove the seeds. Keep the scrapings and the seeds aside for use later.

Sprinkle some salt on the bittergourd and keep aside

In a skillet, heat some cooking oil and add cumin seeds. Once it browns, add the onions, green chillies, ginger and cook until they are almost done

Add asafoetida, turmeric powder, the bittergourd scrapings and the seeds (chop the seeds if they are big) fry for a minute and then add besan, salt, sugar, chilly/sambar powder. Make sure the raw smell from besan goes away.

Once it is all cooked, add the amchur, stir and allow to cool

Rinse the bittergourd so you get rid of the salt and stuff the mixture into the bittergourd.

Take a pan with a lid and add enough oil to cover its bottom. Once the oil is hot, put the stuffed bittergourds and cover. Keep turning the gourds every minute or so so all sides get cooked uniformly.

Serve hot with rice.

If you do not like the dish dry, temper some mustard seeds, fry chopped onion, add couple of chopped tomatoes, salt and once the tomatoes turn mushy add some chilly powder. Lay this on a dish and serve the stuffed bittergourd in it. You could garnish with coarsely crushed roasted peanuts. Some people tie the bittergourd with a thread so it does not split, I skipped that and had no problems.

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