Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Simple bare necessities. Bittergourd (Karela) stir fry.

You either love it or loathe it.  Most people agree that the bitter gourd has properties to lower your blood sugar levels among other benefits. 
The trouble is eating this *extremely* bitter vegetable. 

My association with the bitter gourd, karela, is not a happy one at all. Traditionally, a stir fry is served as a part of the 'shraddha' (a death anniversary ritual) lunch. It was one occasion where I could not turn up my nose at the food served (solemn occasion, my grandfather's shraddha) and eating it was nothing short of a punishment. I remember hissing in my mom's ear, "Aai, karla nako ga, please!  Nahi tar agdi thoda vadh, like one sliver". I've even gulped it down with water and almost choked and shuddered at the bitter after taste. 

That does not mean it isn't made on other days. But my mom never got or made this. We refused to even try it.

The first person, in my little circle, who loved  the dreaded karla / karela was my Mami (aunt). But I never tasted any. The first time I tried and tasted (and liked) was this recipe. But over time, I pushed it away and forgot all about it. 
If you, like me, have started liking (or even trying) this vegetable late in life, chances are, you will eat it once, forget it for a few days months  years and go back to it, slowly. 
But now, I pick up the gourds without a second thought. 
This recipe is one I picked up from a friend. Its a very, very simple one.
There are no spices, no sugar. Just the basic, turmeric and red chilies powder (optional) and salt. And yet, it is tasty. 
If you pick the gourds carefully, they may not be 'that' bitter. I read in a Marathi cook book, the pale green bitter gourds are generally  better and I prefer smaller sized gourds. 
I also did not salt and set aside the chopped bitter gourd ( this takes away some of the bitterness by drawing it out). Nothing needed. 

Begin by washing and patting the gourds dry. I used 3 gourds (the size of an IPhone 6).
Slice them in to thin rounds.
Slice a small red onion, lengthwise. 

Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a kadhai / wok/ cast iron griddle.
Add the karela /bitter gourd rounds. 
I keep the heat at #7

Bitter gourd stir fry

Sprinkle a hefty pinch of salt and keep turning the karela, so both sides brown and cook evenly.
Add the onions and salt. Stir and cook well.

quick karela stir fry
After about 7-10 mins add 1/2 tsp Turmeric and 1/2 tsp red chilies powder (if you want).

Lower the heat and let it cook, helps crisp the edges of the karela and makes it tasty! 

Karela subji

Serve with a Ghadichi Poli (coming up soon).

Have a great week ahead, folks! 
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