Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sweet affair with a bitter gourd - stuffed bitter gourd or stuffed kaakarakaya

I think the world can be divided into people that love bitter gourd in any form, shape and those that run miles away having to eat a preparation made with this vegetable. I belong to the former category and so does the BH. We are still working on the daughter to make her a convert, she loves the crispy, baked bitter gourd rings but is yet to enjoy the gojjus (gravies) and dry curries I make with it. Last week, when I made this stuffing for the gourd, she ate a piece and said 'Amma, it actually tastes good' :-), ah I can see the light at the end of the tunnel ..

The bitter gourds are known for their low calories, high vitamin C, vitamin A & flavonoids. They contain polypeptide-p, a plant based insulin which helps to reduce blood sugar levels and is recommended in pre-diabetic & diabetic diets.

This recipe is from R's family, the way it came to my kitchen is round about. We were visiting R's cousins a few years back and the cousin's wife had made this for lunch, needless to say I fell in love with it immediately and asked for the recipe. She got it from her MIL (R's atta) who got it from her younger sister (another atta of R) - this is starting to sound like the time when Ron & Harry had fought in the Goblet of Fire and Ron asked Hermoine to tell Harry to meet Hagrid :-), I know I have confused everyone enough but couldn't resist that bit from Harry Potter series.

So before you run away from the blog, here is a recipe for a delicious stuffed bitter gourd (hagalakayi/kaakarakaya) for all the bitter gourd fans and future fans. If you shy away from the bitter gourds because of the 'bitterness', trust me you won't feel any of it in this dish.

What do you need to make stuffed bitter gourd?
4-5 medium sized bitter gourds/hagalakayi/kakarakaya - scrape the skin lightly with a peeler, cut into 1.5 inch long pieces (see picture)
1 very large red onion - chop into bite size chunk
1 Tsp cumin seeds/jeerige
1.5 Tbslp salt (adjust to taste)
5 dry red chilies
1 small piece of tamarind
pinch of turmeric
4 Tsp cooking oil
water to boil
Bitter gourd pieces cut and ready to be cooked with tamarind, salt & turmeric

How do you make stuffed bitter gourd?
Cooked bitter gourd pieces
  1. Put the peeled, cut bitter gourd pieces into a microwave safe bowl, add tamarind, 1/2 Tblsp salt, turmeric and pour water to sufficiently cover all the pieces
  2. Microwave this for 20 minutes until the pieces become soft but hold the shape firmly, alternatively you can put them in a pressure cooker and cook it for one whistle.
  3. Take the chopped onions, red chilies and cumin seeds into your blender and blend into paste - this will not require any water to grind as onion leaves a lot of water.
  4. Heat 3 Tsp of oil in a wide pan, pour the ground paste into into it and add salt.
  5. Cook the paste, stirring frequently until raw onion smell is gone and the paste looks semi solid. This will take about 25-30 minutes.
  6. Once the bitter gourd has cooled, drain the water and take out the pieces - discard the tamarind
  7. Take a small spoon and scoop out the seeds from inside the pieces, it falls out easily
  8. Stuff the cooked onion paste generously into the bitter gourd pieces and arrange them in the same pan
  9. Add the remaining Tsp of oil and let the pieces crisp up a little (5-6 minutes).
  10. Serve it with hot rice or bread. 
Ground onion-cumin-red chilies paste
Cooked paste after 30 minutes
Stuffed bitter gourd piece
Pan fried stuffed bitter gourd


NamsVeni Pothas said...

very good healthy recipe . any specials for Pongal?

Anonymous said...

Sounds good. Will try

Manjula Pidaparty said...

thanks vodina for the recipe, tried it and was good. did with a small modification - didnt peel or boil karela. might have lost some "Sattvaa", right?
another deviation from this recipe, my mil stuffs it with a mix of basin-chilli powder-salt. try it out sometime. she uses that mix for capsicum and dondakayi(telugu, no idea in english) also.

Nagashree said...

Great to see you here Manju. Glad you liked the karela, I am sure it would taste good without those 2 steps. I do the peeling & boiling because of N, to start her off appreciating the taste :-).

Basan-chili powder sounds yummy, thanks for sharing, will give it a try soon. Dondakaya is tondekayi in kannada and ivy gourd in English. I stuff karelas also with pappula podi, have it in my draft will post it soon, didn't want too many karela recipes too soon :-)