Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Spicy Bitter Gourd
Bitter melon or bitter gourd has been traditionally used in Chinese and Ayurveda medicine for detoxing and to help treat type 2 diabetes among other things. The seeds and pith are discarded and the flesh is cooked in a variety of ways. The melon you see above is of the Chinese variety. Karela is a smaller Indian variety that matches the bitterness of the above melon.
The Indian variety of bitter gourd often showed up in my mother's weekly rotation of dishes. She would thinly slice the melons and soak it in turmeric and a handful of salt to draw out some of the bitterness. After soaking it for at least an hour, the sliced melons will be rinsed and drained before using in a variety of recipes. My personal childhood favourite was deep fried sliced masala bitter melon with a side of ketchup for dipping ( known as tomato sauce in Malaysia). My three older brothers did not partake in this little feast of mine which made me happier - more for me!!! I know, I was a peculiar child :)
The recipe below is made using this chilli paste that I have stashed in the freezer for an emergency like this one ;) Feel free to substitute with any chilli paste that you can get your hands on.
Spicy Bitter Gourd
1 bitter gourd
2 tb vegetable oil
1 1/2 tb sambal paste
1/2 cup water
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tb fresh lemon juice/tamarind juice
Cut bitter gourd in half and scoop out seeds and pith. Cut into half moon around 1/4 inch thick. Place in a bowl , sprinkle 1/2 tb salt , mix well and leave in the bowl for one hour.
Rinse gourd well after one hour and drain well. Heat vegetable oil in a saute pan or a wok and saute sambal paste for 5 minutes on medium heat or until the oil separates. Add drained gourd pieces and stir well for at least 3 minutes. Pour in water, sugar and lime juice. Cover and cook until water evaporates. Taste and add salt as needed. Take off heat and serve as a side dish along with steamed rice. Makes 4/5 servings.