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Monday, February 14, 2011

Karlya chi Bhaaji - Bitter Gourd Curry

This is a recipe that I rarely ate as a kid. In fact, as a kid I didn’t want to eat bitter gourd curry as I always thought that this would be very bitter. To my surprise when I finally tasted it, I loved it. It was savory, spicy, sweet and bitter, all the tastes blending beautifully to create a very tasty curry. We used to grow bitter gourd in our garden, so whenever we had a fresh crop, my mom used to make this curry and the fried chips version. This is a recipe which needs many ingredients and is more involved than the fried version. But it is so delicious, that I decided to buy the vegetable this time with the sole aim of making this curry. I must say we enjoyed it.  I hope you enjoy it too.

Note: To see more details about bitter gourd/karela/karla, see my previous post on “karlya che kaap-bitter gourd chips

4-5 bitter gourds, diced into cubes
1/2 red onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1/8 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 cup dry coconut (unsweetened), sliced/ grated/shredded
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp goda masala (can substitute cumin-corriander/dhana-jeera powder)
1/8 tsp turmeric
¼ cup groundnut/peanut, ground coarsely into a powder
Red chilli powder to taste
1 inch piece jaggery or 1 tbsp brown sugar
Salt to taste
2 tbsp oil
1-2 cups water

Pressure cook the bitter gourd pieces, by adding sufficient water to cover the pieces.  They should be cooked through and softened, not overcooked.  Alternately, you may boil the pieces in water till they are cooked through, if you do not have a pressure cooker. This step reduces the bitterness. Drain and set aside.

Roast the cumin seeds and the coconut separately. Dry roast them till you can smell the aroma, do not let it burn. Then grind this together to form a powder.

In a pan, add the oil, to this add onions and fry till lightly browned. Then add the ginger garlic paste and fry for a couple of minutes. To this add the cumin, coconut mixture. Then add the garam and goda masalas, the peanut powder, salt, chilli powder, turmeric. Fry this for a minute or so. Add the cooked bitter gourd pieces. Fry for a minute. Then add about 1 cup of water to form the gravy. Add more water if the gravy is very thick. Boil for a few minutes.  Then add the jaggery as the last step, cook for another minute. Serve hot with chapatti or white rice.

Another method to reduce the bitterness would be to apply salt over the bitter gourd pieces and keep them aside for 10-15 minutes. They will release a lot of water, then rinse and pat them dry.  You can use these directly in the gravy instead of cooking them separately. They may be bitterer than the cooked, drained pieces.  If you have a pressure cooker and are tolerant of bitter taste, then omit the first step and cook the entire preparation directly in the pressure cooker. This is much faster, but the gravy will have a stronger bitter flavor than using cooked and drained pieces.


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