An Ode to ……….BITTER GOURD [ KARELA ( KALARA in Odia)]
Karela, though bitter in taste, is known to be an extremely healthy vegetable. Having karela juice every morning or at least two to three times intake of karela dishes a week, keeps many ills away! It is anti-diaebetic, cleanses blood, brings shine to skin, and so much more. But as it tastes bitter, mostly people do not like eating it and mothers have a tough time making their family eat these dishes, howsoever innovatively they may prepare the same. Of course, there are some who relish this bitter taste ( I know a few North Indians who really love karela.) – but they are truly numbered!
Nevertheless, a little persuasion advocating the benefits, a bit of variation to the karela dishes and a special order of consumption can do the trick.
Benefits … I have already talked about.
Variety of preparation ….. please try out the different recipes I am going to share and I believe, these are very tasty to those who relish karela and palatable to those who hate the bitter taste, but have to eat for health reasons.
Easy way of consumption( for those who hate karela) …. Treat the karela dish as some kind of unavoidable medicine and eat it FIRST with a little bit of plain rice, in 3 to 4 gulps. The bitterness that lingers on as you finish the dish can further get over with eating of a little more of plain rice and a bit of some other dish(es). This way, you are done with your karela quota and now you are ready to enjoy your main course with other items on the platter!! If you choose to eat karela at the end of your meal or along with your meal, everything would taste bitter and you would spoil your taste buds for the entire meal. So, be done with karela first. Of course, choice is always yours – what matters is, you must have karela regularly.
Karela Aloo Chips
Chop karela ( 1-2 tender, long variety) into thin rings. Wash one large aloo ( potato) with jacket(skin) under running water and slice thin first and then chop through the slices first lengthwise in the middle, then breadthwise in the middle to have 4 quarters of each slice. Wash karela and aloo, drain out water well and transfer to a bowl. Add 1 tbsp rice atta ( chaula chuna), 2-3 tbsp besan, salt, haldi, ½ tsp red chilli powder, 1 tsp curry powder/sambhar masala/dhania powder, 1/2 tsp aamchur, grated garlic( 1-2 healthy cloves), a few drops of vinegar and a few drops of oil. Mix up. May spinkle a few drops of water, only if needed for the pieces to get nicely coated with masala(spices). Let the mix be a bit dry and tight.
Heat ½ cup refined oil in a deep bottomed small frying pan( kadai) and deep fry the karela-aloo mix in 2-3 batches on high to medium flame till brown and crispy.
May flavour with a dash of black salt and pepper( optional).Serve hot and crispy as a side dish with rice and other accompaniments.
Tip : when you have to keep the mix ready for frying after sometime, add rice atta just before deep-frying. That way, excess moisture, if any released by the mix in the meanwhile, gets absorbed.
Well, this one is not high on a health quotient, but serves as a great side dish on a rice platter.