Saturday, May 03, 2008

Stuffing away old phobias!! A bitter awakening! and a MeMe!!

For as long as I have known, I have kept a *safe* distance from THE Bitter Gourd! I always wondered HOW people ever liked and ate it! My eyes would bugger out if they said they *loved* it and it was their favorite!
And I would think... " It does not even look appealing! All spiky!" And who wants to eat bitter stuff? What's the point? It also was not a part of my Mother's cooking, no one would touch it, so she did not force it upon us ( oh she made the usual remarks about us being fuss pots and how one must experience all 'rasas' usually ending with ice cream and bhelpuri being the only food we considered worthy of our notice...)
My first experience of tasting karela was actually at a 'varsha-shraddh' and I couldn't really discard it, but the horrid bitterness travelled down my throat and gagged me and I never forgot the ordeal and swore NEVER to go within miles of 'that' thing again.
I had heard of its benefits but stubbornly refused to apply them in any way to my life. In case any of you want a hasty re cap of how 'good' it is ...read on (source : http://www.herbalcureindia.com/)

Karela fruits have long been used in India as a popular home remedy for
diabetes mellitus.
Latin Name:Momordica charantia Linn.
English Name / Common Name:Bitter Gourd / Bitter melon
Sanskrit / Indian Names: Karavella, Karela
Karela contains Gurmarin, a polypeptide considered to be similar to bovine insulin, which has been shown in experimental studies to achieve a positive sugar regulating effect by suppressing the neural response to sweet taste stimuli. Karela fruit is regularly used in the Indian diet and is known as a folk remedy for diabetes mellitus. Bitter melon is rich in iron and has twice the beta carotene of broccoli, twice the calcium of spinach, twice the potassium of bananas, and contains vitamins C and B 1 to 3, phosphorus and good dietary fiber. It is believed to be good for the liver and has been proven by western scientists to contain insulin, act as an anti-tumor agent, and inhibit HIV-1 infection. At least 32 active constituents have been identified in bitter
melon so far, including beta-sitosterol-d-glucoside, citrulline, GABA, lutein,
lycopene and zeaxanthin. Nutritional analysis reveals that bitter melon is also
rich in potassium, calcium, iron, beta-carotene, vitamins B1, B2, B3 and C.
Benefits of Karela / Bitter Melon
Bitter Melon is useful in treating Diabetes.
Bitter Melon reduces sugar levels in blood and urine
Bitter Melon helps achieve positive sugar regulating effect by suppressing the neural
response to sweet taste stimuli.
Bitter Melon has shown significant antilipolytic and lipogenic activity.
Bitter Melon is a good blood purifier
Bitter Melon treats worm infestations
Bitter Melon stimulates pancreas and liver and helps in good absorption of food
Bitter Melon is useful as an emetic, purgative, as an anthelmentic, in piles, and jaundice


End of gyan!! Back to getting over the old phobia .. my friends here did not seem averse to eating karela and smiled palyfully at my intense dislike and were amused no end when I shuddered at the thought of making and eating the bitter gourd! They stressed that their way of making it, I would not even realise I was eating karela! Thanks, but ummm.. I'll pass!
Slowly , even blogosphere was getting saturated with the dreaded melon! There was no running away from it! This was the first one that really appealed to me and I was determined to try it out, not for my sake, but for M. He likes it!
Then one day I was chatting with my friend S (my Heroine!) who said she was making stuffed karela for dinner... and for M's sake I asked her to mail me the recipe. She was surprised no doubt at my unusual request, but did not say anything at that point of time ( why discourage something like this?)
That evening I proudly told M that I was going to make karela chips and stuffed karela for him, he was delighted ( and under the obvious misconception that I was also going to eat it !). However at the Indian Store, the bitter melons did not really look that fresh and I ended up with just 2 from the lot that looked better than the rest. Though a bit disappointed M suggested I make the stuffed version first and so I dug up the recipe once again ( it was sent over 2 weeks or so ago and was in my mail box).


In Heroine's words:
3 or 4 small tender Bitter Gourds / karela
1 dry Red chilli (optional)
1 Bay leaf (optional)
1 Finely chopped Onion
1 chopped Green chilli or according to taste
1 small Tomato chopped
1 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 tsp each coriander pwd and cumin pwd
1 tbsp Besan / Gram flour
1 tsp Ginger-Garlic paste
1/2 tsp Garam masala pwd
1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Few sprigs Cilantro finely minced


First scrape the surface of the bitter gourds/karelas...make a slit length wise....don't cut it into half....remove the pulp and seeds from inside...keep aside. Then boil the karelas in water with 1 tsp salt...cook till it becomes tender.Keep aside. Heat oil in a kadhai....add cumin seeds....one dry red chilly whole...and one bay leaf....when the seeds crackle...add green chilli and chopped onion...when the onion becomes transparent...add ginger garlic paste and the masalas and besan and turmeric pwd...cook for a while then add the tomatoes....when they are cooked add the pulp and seeds of the karela...fry for sometime...add salt....then add 1/2 cup water...cover and cook for sometime on low flame. When the water is completely dried...add garam masala and coriander leaves....remove from heat...and let it cool! when the mixture is cool enough....fill into the split karelas....make a paste of 1 tbsp besan...a little salt and water....roll the karela in it and shallow fry them....when its crisp remove and serve hot with roti !

* changes I made: I did not add the pulp and seeds to the stuffing. The bitter gourds I got had real HARD seeds ( are they supposed to be that way?) and also the fact that I was rather nervous about the bitterness.. so all in all, I chucked them away. Also did not add water and cook the stuffing, eliminated that step as the tomato I used was very juicy and the whole stuffing looked good to me the way it was. Verdict: This recipe is THE one for me! And the 'me' is not a typo! As I was making the stuffing I was convinced that it is a HIT! I went ahead and spooned a bit onto a slice of bread and tasted it ( ahem...the stuffing had to cool down before I stuffed it.. ) ooooooooh!! Goooood!

Where I goofed: the part where one rolls the stuffed karela in a thin besan batter and shallow fry it, the batter I made was too thin and so did not 'stick' to the vegetable. But as confirmed from heroine, it was not a big deal and certainly not meant to be coated like a bhajiya! just to ensure that the filling did not spill out.. that I managed well!

M loved it! his obvious enjoyment at this unusual treat was heart warming! He really enjoyed it! his boyish delight and swaying his body with every bite and his compliments made my evening!! And what he said was true.. there was no trace of bitterness in the gourd! Encouraged by this I tasted it and liked it too! Yes, this was not 'that' taste! My dislike ( or dread) for karela dissolved with every bite and now I am convinced that IF I make it in this way, I am going to like it as much as M! Thank you S, for this wonderful recipe!!

And now for the MeMe!! Shubha Of Chutki bhar Pyar Tagged me .. It's been a while since I did a Meme and I'm glad I got this opportunity! Thanx Shubha!!



1) LAST MOVIE U SAW IN A THEATRE?

Charlie Wilson's War



2) WHAT BOOK ARE U READING??

The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle - Hugh Lofting

3) FAVOURITE BOARD GAME?

Snake In The Grass

Saanp Seedi!!!



4) FAVOURITE MAGAZINE? Aah! this varies!


Paris Jail Sentence

I used to read Femina and all that in inda ( never subscribed, just from the library) and now I just leaf thru the colorful magazines when waiting to check out at the stores (all those gossipy mags with all the dumb celebrities hounded from their layers and their fab clothes and the even fab scandals!!)


5) FAVOURITE SMELLS?

Rain Cloud

The wet earth after rains! So soothing !

Perfume :Davidoff's 'Cool Water' !



Chef

Good Food!



6) FAVOURITE SOUNDS?

Belly Laugh

My Dad chuckling! Contagious!


My Husband tramping up the stairs, coming home from work.

Walking

7) WORST FEELING IN THE WORLD?


Kicking Dirt

Being underestimated


8) WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU THINK OF WHEN U WAKE?


Alarm Clock


Huh? *blink, blink* Honey wake up, you are late Again!! Subha ho gayi Mamu!!


9) FAVOURITE FASTFOOD PLACE?



Eating Pizza


USA:

Hardly an option for a Vegetarian.. Pizza hut, Domino's, In n Out, Subway

India :NOW we're talking!


Pav Baji: Achija's (Ghatkopar-Mumbai) Number one !

Manis' ( Ruia College) for The yummiest south Indian snacks EVER!

DP's (Ruia College again) for Masala Pav

Kailash Parbat ( Churchgate) for AWESOME chaat!

The corner Vada Pav wala in Tilak Nagar-Chembur, also in the Kirti College area, Jubo vada pav in Thane (near rthe station) Tip - top for chaats

And a corner in Sindhi colony-Thane (E) where one gets LIP-SMACKING paani puri from the L.L.B Paani puri wala!

Frankie at Shivaji Park!

There is a Dosa Wala in Khar- Mumbai ( for those who know it, near film star Rakhee's bunglow) if he is still there, for the sheer variety of tasty Dosas he made (like a dosa mela there!)

10) FUTURE CHILDS NAME?



Mommy & Baby

Something uncomplicated and short! To be announced!



11) FINISH THIS STATEMENT—'IF I HAD A LOT OF MONEY '..


Shy Whistler


I would be just the way I am now, careless with it!

12) DO U DRIVE FAST?



Convertible Female

I used to! Young blood and all that!

13) DO U SLEEP WITH A STUFFED ANIMAL?

Panda

I used to... when I was little.



14) STORMS–COOL OR SCARY?

Thunder

Absolutely Cool! Majestic!


Hurricane



15) WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CAR?



Low Rider (pardon the pink!)



A cream colored Fiat ( Premier Padmini), My Basanti!!

16) FAVOURITE DRINK?

Cheers 2

Water!



17) FINISH THIS STATEMENT-IF I HAD THE TIME I WOULD :



Reading


Read to my heart's content ( not that I do not now, but there are chores...)



18) DO YOU EAT THE STEMS ON BROCCOLI? :

Feed Me

Yes, Kinda..... short stems ..



19) IF YOU COULD DYE YOUR HAIR ANY OTHER COLOUR, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR CHOICE?

Red Hat

Black-Brown with burgundy highlights!



20) NAME ALL THE DIFFERENT CITIES/TOWNS U HAVE LIVED IN?



India : India Good Ol' Bombay & New Bombay

Banglore : short stay (3 months)

Kolkatta ( 3 weeks)

Currently in California Los Angeles county , CA



21) FAVOURITE SPORTS TO WATCH?

Tennis Volley

Tennis



22) ONE NICE THING ABOUT THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU?

Cooking Dinner

Apart from being an enthusiastic cook, have you guys seen the wonderful Henna/ Mehendi designs on her blog? Very intricate and beautiful!



23) WHATS UNDER YOUR BED?

Pillow

Nothing except the bosxspring, but back home I'd stuff loads undere the mattress, old pictures, letters , wrist watch (which I forgot for almost a year!), money, hair-bands and clips, an old sim card, pens, pencils and markers, hanky, paper clippings, keys.......


24) WOULD U LIKE TO BE BORN AS YOURSELF AGAIN??



Pregnant Smiley

Yes! If my parents have no objection!



25) MORNING PERSON OR NIGHT OWL?

Falling Asleep

Both! have the capacity to sit up late and get up reasonably early!



26) OVER EASY OR SUNNY SIDE UP?


What Stinks


Eggs STINK!



27) FAVORITE PLACE TO RELAX?


Relaxing By The Fire

Anywhere with a book!


28) FAVORITE PIE?

Eating Pie

Haven't tasted many, but I liked Pumpkin when I had a small slice.


29) FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR?

Ice Cream

Butterscotch , Fresh Strawberry, Mango, Sitaphal, Roasted Almond

30) OF ALL THE PEOPLE U HAVE TAGGED, WHO IS THE MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND FIRST?

C'mon! let's see who is the fastest of 'em all!! If they would like to play along, I'd like to tag:

Shilpa of Aayi's Recipes
Nupur of One Hot Stove
Musical of Musical's Kitchen

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20 comments:

  1. He he i like the way u used the emoticons... Great to know more, gosh what else have u kept under ur bed in India?
    The stuffed BG looks gorgeous

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey Manasi,
    you can add shredded potato in the stuffing ..it will taste little less bitter

    ReplyDelete
  3. That was a great read Manasi, both the bitter gourd adventure and the meme... Glad you love bitter gourd now, I am one of those who "love it" :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi..nice reading ur meme..Funny pics...nice to hear your from LA too..

    ReplyDelete
  5. manasi...i love stuffed karela too..i used to wonder the same when ppl. said i love karela..i would actually feel sorry for them :D..and nice meme...

    ReplyDelete
  6. So glad to see you brought over to the side of us bittergourd lovers by using this recipe!! :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Really you came over the phobia?? I cannot believe it Manasi. I have tried so much and repeatedly failed. Sometimes I even tried to convince myself that I like this veggies, but no use :((. I will have to try your dish.
    I love your emoticons. Where do you get them? they are so sweet.

    ReplyDelete
  8. i do like karela, specially my mom's stuffed karela :)
    u got me all nostalgic with mani's & dp's, used to be 'padik' over there ;)

    ReplyDelete
  9. So you've gone to the dark side...of karela-lovers??

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Manasi,

    Abt Karela: yes, acc to me, its indeed a tasty vegetable no matter how its made. My aai, tries to retain all its bitterness (fr the nutrition value). smtimes she makes stuff karela with coconut stuffing, that too is delicious.. i love it.. missing it.

    abt MEME: it was pleasure knowing u little more. Whatever I know abt u from ur blogs, its been a classic combination of charm, knowledge, passion, bit of vulnerability, candid..
    But all in all, u r a lovely woman.. i mean it..

    ReplyDelete
  11. That's cheating! You took all the insides out... i am still karela phobic.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thank U ALL OF U!! I may not be able to reply to ur comments individually, but I do read them all and Love them!! Thank U so much !!!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Nice Meme Manasi and the recipe looks great. Viji

    ReplyDelete
  14. manasi..when i checked this post, was in a hurry so couldn't comment..its such a lovely post...I loved your meme the most!..so wonderfully nice...

    and abt the books..yeah now I read your profile and its the same...a friend after mine!...:)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Bitter gourd is an ugly bugger of a fruit, isn't it!

    Loved those smilies...

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hi Manasi,

    Abt Karela: yes, acc to me, its indeed a tasty vegetable no matter how its made. My aai, tries to retain all its bitterness (fr the nutrition value). smtimes she makes stuff karela with coconut stuffing, that too is delicious.. i love it.. missing it.

    abt MEME: it was pleasure knowing u little more. Whatever I know abt u from ur blogs, its been a classic combination of charm, knowledge, passion, bit of vulnerability, candid..
    But all in all, u r a lovely woman.. i mean it..

    ReplyDelete
  17. Lovely recipe. I have to tell you that i love karelas :). And very cute meme, dear-thanks for tagging :). I'll take it up soon as i can.

    Sorry for replying so late!

    cheers,
    musical.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Yummy looking dahi vadas...was one of my favs frm our college cafeteria...Nice blog too

    ReplyDelete
  19. Oh did you do a fun job with those smilies! Bet that took some time to pull together - thanks, got some good smiles out of that! :)

    ReplyDelete

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