Fried Bitter Gourd

 

 

 

No wonder children usually run away from bitter gourd dishes – in fact it is considered the most bitter of all culinary vegetables.

The scientific name of the bitter gourd or bitter melon is “Momordica Charantia.” It is very low in calories but has many nutrients. It was used as a cure to diabetics in traditional medicines. Bitter melon juice has been shown to significantly improve glucose tolerance without increasing blood insulin levels. Recent researches have proved that  it contains a hypoglycaemic or insulin-like compound, designated as “plant insulin” which has been beneficial in lowering blood and urine sugar levels.

Though it has a bitter taste, it is widely used in Asian cooking for its health benefits as well as for its flavour.

It is a popular vegetable in India, and we call it different names according to the region – Pavakkai, Karela, Kakkarakai etc. It is cooked in many different ways: stir-fried with fresh coconut, stuffed with spices, deep-fried or curried. For bitter gourd curries, sweet, sour and spicy flavours are added to balance the bitterness of the fruit.

In Chinese cooking it is often made into soups, combined with meat and other vegetables.

In Japan these days Goya (bitter gourd) is very popular because of the appreciation of Okinawan cuisine. It is considered as the healthiest traditional diet in Japan and people believe that Goya chanpuru  (stir fried bitter gourd with sliced meat, egg tofu, and flavoured with miso and soy) is one of the secrets of okinawaian peoples’ healthy longevity.

If you are trying bitter gourd for the first time I suggest you to remove some bitterness from the slices before cooking it – To do so, you can mix the slices with some salt and leave them for ten to fifteen minutes and then squeeze out the bitter juices.

 

 

Like all children, I used to find every excuse to avoid eating bitter gourd whenever my mom cooked it. But as I grew older I slowly got converted. This bitter gourd fry is one of my favourites at the moment. The deep-frying process makes the bitterness much milder and the crispy coating adds a wonderful texture and flavour. Serve them with lots of plain, hot rice – I have to warn you, it is not for the faint hearted, but it is definitely worth a try!

 

Bitter gourd fry ( Pavakkai porichathu) 

Bitter gourd-1 (200g)

Gram flour( chick pea flour)- 1/4cup

Rice flour-1/4 cup

Chili powder-1/2 teaspoon

Turmeric powder-1/4 teaspoon

Asafoetida powder-one pinch

Salt

Water

Oil for deep frying

Method

  • Wash and slice the bittergourd 1/4 cm thick, remove the seeds.
  • Mix with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and leave aside for ten minutes, squeeze out the juices and dry them with a kitchen towel.
  • Mix all the other  ingredients with enough water and salt to make a thick batter.
  • Heat oil in a frying pan or wok and deep fry the bittergourd slices coated with the batter until cryspy  and light golden brown colour.