22 July 2015

Bitter-Gourd: Not So Bitter Anymore

Bitter-gourd, as the name suggests, tastes bitter, hence, gained countless "unlikes" among people. Many avoid this vegetable exactly because of that bitterness. Many even suggest to pour salt on it, squeeze, and discard the juice. This, obviously, removes the most nutrients that it contains so, for me,  there's no point in eating it. 
On the other hand, some say to not mix or stir it often while cooking. 
I tried this one but failed. Still bitter!
Though there was one time when it didn't taste that bitter. A different variety?
Maybe! I have not had it in a long time.
How about adding sugar?
No way!

I really tried a few ways to cook bitter gourd and it always ended in the 'unwanted' list -a list of vegetables that you will only have for their nutritional value.

In Philippines, adding eggs or bagoong/uyap/alamang (krill, it is, I think) to sliced bitter-gourd is the most common way of cooking it along with garlic, onion, and tomatoes.
I liked it, then.
Will still like it.
But, since I decided to leave the hens and fishes alone, knowing the hens will certainly not like me taking her eggs and the fishes to be out of water,
I got determined to find a non-violent way of cooking bitter-gourd.

I tried grilling/roasting it. Then, vinegar and salt were sprinkled on it.
Quite fine!

I also tried the usual garlic-onion, tomato combination but sauteed in coconut oil with turmeric and pepper powder. 
Quite okay! I did this method quite a few times.

But, this method has to change. It's not really so memorable that you would want to have it again and again!

Until one day when I finally followed my husband's long-standing suggestion. And I guess I nailed the best way to cook it. Well, not that I have hunted down the entire internet archives in search for the best bitter-gourd recipe! Lol!

Adding grated coconuts to it!

So, I tried it...finally!

The results?

Well, never in my entire bitter-gourd dish making did I expect to have nailed the best way to make it!
It was outstanding!
I really enjoyed my lunch with bitter-gourd for the first time!

So, without further adieu, here's to
the Bitter-Gourd: Not So Bitter Anymore recipe!

What are needed?

1. Bitter-gourd, fresh, 3 medium size, washed, cut into halves and thin pieces
2. Garlic, 3 heads, peeled, crushed or/and chopped into small pieces (keep aside for 20 minutes before using to activate the enzyme in it for maximum health benefits)
3. Onions, 2 medium size, cut into long thin pieces
4. Tomatoes, 3 medium size, chopped into small cubes
5. Coconut, fresh, 1/2, grated (I chopped into small pieces then grated/blended using a chutney jar. You can use less of it, too. Just check how you like it)

6. Coconut oil, 2-3 tbsp. (other vegetable oil is also fine)
7. Salt to taste
8. Lemon juice
9. Mustard seeds, 1 tsp. (can be made without this, but I made mine with it)

How to do it?

1. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds to crackle. 
2. Add in onions and salt. Mix till translucent. Add garlic and saute' till garlic gives a nice aromatic smell.

3. Add in tomatoes and cook till they get mashed. Add more oil if necessary. Wait till oil separates from the mixture, which is very important.

~see to it that the tomatoes are mashed enough you
get to see oil separates from the mixture~
4. Add bitter-gourd. Mix well and cook till soft. Do not cover. Also check the saltiness.

5. Add grated coconut, mix, and cook for about 5-10 minutes (litle scorching on the sides is yummy).

6. Turn off stove and sprinkle lemon juice. Mix well and serve.

~Do not use ginger-garlic paste. It seems that they make the mixture a little wettish.
~I had it with cumin-turmeric brown rice and 1 piece of papad. It was divine!
~The next time we had it, we dropped the rice and eaten it with papad only. Delicious!
~Have it while still hot.
~I have never tried it with roti, chapati, or paratha. You can try! I will certainly try once and see if it's a good combination.
~I am now looking forward to having bitter-gourd using this recipe from now on.
~Bitter-gourd is Ampalaya in Tagalog language, Paliya in Cebuano language, and Karela in Hindi language

Do try it at home and this might just become one of your favorites -the unlikable that became the likable!


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