I know, your reactions…why I the world a BITTER GOURD!! Well, I was thinking about the tastes and taste buds. We all eat sweet, savoury, sour, astringent and pungent(Asian communities believe there are these 2 tastes as well)however when it comes to bitter, there have been limitations. For more about the tastes, read here. According to Ayurveda, bitter food, reduce fat, flesh and marrow..hence recommended for diabetics. The bitter elements also enable better blood circulation because they are able to move through the narrow channels. They are hence purifying and detoxifying.
I decided upon using Karela(bitter gourd) when I chose the theme for my blog ” Healthy Indian Diet” As a child, my mum would make sure that we had this bitter vegetable at least once a week. It was presented to us in all kinds of forms…sliced, marinated in turmeric and salt and fried like crisps, sliced and made a chutney kind( Kayras), or even stuffed….but did I and my siblings like it…NOO!! However, as I grew, I developed the palate for bitter taste and now that when I am a mum and understand the benefits of all the tastes and there measures, I will try and follow my mum’s footsteps.
Now why in the world do we add spices to our vegetables while cooking? Well, recently as I read Kitchen Doctor, I seem to have enlightened and know my kitchen better and my pantry all the more better. Spices when cooked with food are absorbed in them which is a state of predigestion. Thus the process of digestion is made simple when we add spices in little quantities. They also enable the secretion of saliva and digestive juices. One important thing is to be careful and not burn the spices while cooking.
Now for Stuffed Bitter Gourd:
2 Bitter Gourds washed, cut in half and sliced in the centre to retain the skin but get rid of the seeds. Boil these in water with salt for 10-15 mins till soft. Salt enables to get rid of the bitterness partially. When done, get them out in a colander and cool.
Chickpea flour( also known as garbanzo flour or besan) 1/2 cup roasted
Dessicated coconut 1/2 cup
Cumin powder 1 tsp
Coriander powder 2 tsp
Turmeric 1 tsp
Red chilli powder 1 tsp
Asoefoetida 1/8 tsp
Salt to taste(1 tsp and a little)
Sugar 1 tsp
Lemon juice from half a lemon(If in India..you may use the juice of 1 lemon)
Mix all these ingredients and make the stuffing ready. The lemon juice should be enough to bring the stuffing together. If it doesn’t, add some more lemon juice. Original recipe in Ruchira(By Late Kamalabai Ogale) states using vegetable oil to bring the stuffing together. But I wanted to avoid as much oil as possible, hence the tweak.
Process of Filling:
Gently hold each part of the bitter gourd. Fill in the stuffing and squeeze with your palm to make a cylinder. Fill in rest of the pieces.
Now, either you can shallow fry these in a little oil or steam them. I steamed these stuffed Karelas’. Served them with hot Chapatis’ They tasted kind of Rajasthani gatte(steamed chickpea dough)
Now for the Spices bonding with the recipe here:
Turmeric: It contains Curcumin which displays both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, giving it the potential to be considered in the development of cancer preventive strategies and applications in clinical research. It is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, useful in disinfecting cuts and burns.
Asafoetida: is a useful antidote for flatulence, which accounts for its popularity with Indian vegetarian cooks who use generous amounts of pulses.
Chickpea flour: This provides the most required dietary fibers. you’ll also be getting vitamin A, vitamin K and several B-complex vitamins, including thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid and a good supply of folate. Chickpea flour provides iron, manganese, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper and selenium..Phew!!! Loads there!!
Cumin: It is a good source of Iron, very effective for digestion and stimulating menstrual cycle. Adding a dash of ground cumin in your face pack can help you treat skin issues. Cumin helps in increasing metabolism.
Coriander: This is a rich source of essential oils. Always recommended for reducing high cholesterol levels, diarrhea, mouth ulcers, menstrual disorders and always helps excrete extra water from the body. Thus is good in reducing swellings due to kidney malfunctioning or anemia, and even in arthritic conditions!!.