07 February, 2008

Bitter Love: Bitter Gourd Saaru & Chips

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Bitter Gourd Marinated in Salt

Bitter gourd, either you love it or hate it. I have seen many people who initially hated this bitter, odd looking vegetable and lately fall in love with it. It takes many meals over years to develop a taste for Hagalakai, as we call it. But there are some who still don't seem to come in terms with this vegetable even after they have had upgraded their wardrobe from sneakers to tailor-made pants;) Unlike my siblings, who are still struggling to acquire taste for this vegetable, I have grown up appreciating its rich bitter and pungent flavour for some strange reasons which are unknown to me. I was always a picky eater as a kid and my love for this bitter vegetable was unsolved mystery to my parents. Every fortnight my Amma made it a point to cook some bitter vegetables and bitter gourd always topped the list. We always had bumper crop of bitter gourd growing in backyard and hence there was no chance of Appa pretending to have amnesia when asked to buy them. The vegetable is reported to be a blood purifier, digestion enhancer and stimulating agent of liver. And now when your read how good Bitter Gourd is for your health, all grown-up and mature ME (!!!???) can’t ignore it right? No fat chance!

When my sister and brother would run a mile at the bare mention of this vegetable, I would happily lick my plate clean whenever Amma made Bitter Gourd dish. One such recipe from my mother’s large collection is Hagalakai Saaru, roughly translated as Bitter Gourd Rasam where bitter taste of Bitter Gourd is lightly concealed with the sweet Jaggary, sour Tamarind and spicy blend of spices. This mixture of five flavours- bitter, sweet, sour, salty and spicy defines the taste of life in a bowl. I love to eat this lightly bitter, spicy, tangy, sweet Saaru with aromatic Basmati rice with a dollop of Ghee and Tender Mango Pickle.

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Bitter Gourd Saaru
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 20-25 mins
Serves: 4-5
Ingredients:
2 medium Bitter Gourd
1 medium Onion, finely chopped
½ tbsp Garlic, finely chopped (Optional)
2 Green Chilli, slit
½ inch Ginger, crushed and chopped
1 small Lime sized Tamarind
1-2 tbsp Jaggery (Adjust acc to taste)
½ - 1 tbsp Rasam Powder
¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
¼ tsp Chilli Powder (Optional)
1 tbsp Coriander Leaves, chopped
Salt to taste

For Tempering:
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 Dry Red Chilli
A big pinch of Hing/Asafoetida
Few Curry Leaves
1 tbsp Oil
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Bitter Gourd Saaru

Method:
Cut thin round slices of bitter gourd, about 1 packed cup, and add little salt to it. Mix well and keep it aside for at least 30 mins. This way the bitter taste of bitter gourd will be released from them.
After 30 minutes or so squeeze as much of water as possible from these bitter gourd slices. Wash them with cold water and drain and keep aside.
Mean while, soak tamarind in hot water for about 10 minutes and extract its juice and keep it aside.
Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds to it. When mustard starts to pop and splutter, add halved dry red chilli, hing and curry leaves. Sauté it for few seconds.
Mix chopped onion, garlic and sauté on medium flame till they leave raw smell and lightly browned.
Add slit green chillies, bitter gourd slices, ginger and mix well. Keep sautéing for about 5 minutes till bitter gourd turns light brown.
Mix in tamarind juice, about 1 cup of water, jaggery, turmeric powder and salt to taste. Bring the mixture to gentle boil at medium flame.
If required add more water and add rasam powder and red chilli powder. Check for the seasoning and make changes according to taste. Cook on a low to medium flame for another 5 minutes and bring it to boil.
Switch off the flame and add chopped coriander leaves. Cover and let it sit for about 10 mins for the flavours to blend well. Serve hot with steaming bowl of rice and pickle and enjoy this bitter goodness.

Another recipe I tried over weekend was Kay’s No Fry Bitter Gourd Chips. Being a bitter gourd fanatic I couldn’t resist trying this recipe which is not just simple to make but also uses very less oil and not much work is involved. I made little changes to the ingredients used and simply followed her recipe. Thank you Kay for this wonderful recipe. Try them to see how good they are.

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Bitter Gourd Slices Marinated with Spices

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No Fry Bitter Gourd Chips
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 15 mins
Serves: 3-4
Ingredients:
2 Bitter Gourds
1-2 tbsp Oil
1 tsp Red Chilli Powder (adjust acc to taste)
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
¼ tsp Amchur/Dry Mango Powder (Optional)
Salt to taste
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No Fry Bitter Gourd Chips

Method:
Slice bitter gourd to thin round slices using mandolin or knife.
Mix in oil, chilli powder, turmeric powder, amchur and salt and marinate for at least half an hour.
Pre-heat the oven at 375 F. Arrange the slices neatly in rows, on a foil covered baking tray and bake it in a middle rack of the oven for about 10 mins. Place the tray on top rack for 3-5 mins so that chips becomes crisp and brown or else broil them. Watch them closely and make sure that they don’t get burned.
That’s it. Serve bitter gourd chips with Rice and Rasam and enjoy.

44 comments :

  1. I love the no fry bitter gourd chips. Bitter gourd is very good for health. Very nice recipes with bitter gourd. I want to try the bitter gourd saaru.

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  2. I love bittergourd (pavakkai, as we call it in Tamil), too! This recipe is new to me. Would love to try it sometime! :)

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  3. :) I was exactly the same, a very picky eater, but somehow used to love bittergourd... still do... This recipe is perfect for me... :)

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  4. no~~no ~~~no bitter gourd for me~~~whateva the method be~~~

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  5. Hi Sia, I have tasted BG chips in India, never tried making at home. BG gojju is for sure a nice dish, its my hubby's fav. Got ur mail, and I am working on it.

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  6. I'd love to try this when S is out of town :-)

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  7. i tried opening ur site in the morning but didn't work. thought u wud have made somethin with bitter choc, when i saw the title of ur post in my reader :D

    what's pooja's event?

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  8. oh the ppictures look good, though I am no bitter gourd fan, I have one ardent fan in my hubby!...if you love this veggis so much, then try out my recipes, you will surely like them a lot!

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  9. @mythreyee, kalai, sig, lakshmi, raaga,
    thank you girls:) do let me know when u give it a try. its not all that bitter when cooked with tamarind, rasam powder and jaggary and adjust the ingredients acc to ur taste.

    @rambhai,
    lol... some people can never come to terms with this vegetable:)

    @nags,
    here is the link to pooja's event.

    @valli,
    we both love bitter gourd and keep trying new recipes. thank u sri, i'll surely check ur recipes and try them:)

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  10. Sia, me too, can't remember when I got hooked on to bitter gourds but now they are a favorite. Bitter Gourd Chips look delicious and so does the Saaru. Perfect with rice and dal.

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  11. I have always liked Bittergourd Sup, My mom n sis are experts in making stuffed bittergourd and sliced bittergourd fry. So i have always enjoyed just these two and now I see a third one, Saaru shouting at me to try once!!

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  12. add me to the list of bg fans :) never had it in rasam though, boiling it must really bring out it's 'true' taste i guess ;)

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  13. STAY AWAY from Mathris,you can't have it!!;D

    Arvind and my mom like to eat Haagalkai. I can cook it but will have a tbsp max!:D

    Saaru and fry both look delicious.

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  14. I love bittergourd too but this saaru is totally new to me. Sounds lovely. I bake bittergourd chips the same way.. :)

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  15. Bittergourd and bitterness...loved it when my mom used to fry it with sliced onions!

    This is a variety here!

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  16. Nice way to cook bitter gourds. The chips look so yummy. Thanx.

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  17. I hated the this veggie when i was home. Mom used to make different ways and i still don't like them.

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  18. wowwwwwww beautiful pics SIA

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  19. We all are mature now to eat bitter gourd Sia ;) . I still dislike it little , and try making some less bitter verisons of it, yours one is surely going to help me for that :) .At my home all love this gourd toooooo much except me :( , for me little more time to grow up yet :))

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  20. Iam gone try this :) Without frying Haagalkai Chips

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  21. Ugh...my mom used to force feed me bitter gourds and I found different ways of not eating it...including feeding it to our neighbours dog hehe. I still dont like it but I love the pics...I had to leave the comment with a positive twist ;o)

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  22. Hi Sia!

    I have been trying to contact you. Could you please email me please?

    Laura (at) BlogHer (dot) com

    Thanks!

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  23. we love hagalkai at home sups! Never had bittergourd rasam! new to me... surely will have to try it sometime!

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  24. love ur writing style..but just like ur siblings..i would run the other direction when this was cooked....but..i would drink a 1/4 glass of bitter melon juice daily!! he he

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  25. I had no clue until i landed to bitter gourd page. Really hoping for bitter chocolate recipes :) .... By the way , the chips are very popular in sweet shops. The gravy has a little twist with the rasam powder.

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  26. "It takes many meals over years to develop a taste for Hagalakai, as we call it."

    wrong. for me it was love at first bite. i like it nice and bitter, not masked with jaggery and things.

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  27. I always make gojju with it.This is a new recipe to try. Beautiful presentation Sia.

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  28. karela!! this is one thing I never ever got to like!!...and don't think I will be able to in the future:) my mom tried a lot:D hehehe

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  29. Love those chips, and they are no fry! Too good! The saaru must have tasted delish too, with all the flavors in it. I loved bitter-gourds when i was very lil', was off them for a long time and fell back in love again :-D.

    Great one, dear!

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  30. We love hagalkai at home. Knowing the benefits I make the chips at home almost alternate day. I do it in MW however. I loved your saar idea and will surly give it a try.

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  31. I love pavakai too and so does the rest of my family. Stuffed bittergourd is one of my favourites, but love tryin out new recipes.
    This rasam is very interesting and havent heard of it before! Thanks

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  32. hey i love bittergourd too.. i make saaru in different way by adding lil bit of grated coconut..can i hv some of these?

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  33. Like the title, Sia! I eat bittergourd if it's salted and squeezed to death, or when it's cooked with jaggery. We Telugus make a great stuffed version.

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  34. I've got to tell you, you've one more member in the BG Club. I love this vegetable cooked anyway. Don't mind the bitterness at all.

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  35. wow sia, yum hagalkai saaru great one :) love it... we love this vege anyway cooked... never thought of saaru nice one..

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  36. @ISG, padmaja, richa, laavanya, rachel, uma, sagari, vanamala, latha, madhu, musie, red chillies, miri, smn, sra, aparna, roopa,
    oh wow!!! good to see so many BG lovers like me here. i thought it was one (wo)man's army;) he he he..
    joke apart i would love to learn more recipes using this gourd. i haven't ventured into making stuffed karela till date but planning to try soon. so please do post ur recipes of BG.

    @ashakka,
    so u r not gonna share mathris with me? no worries, i'll manage with other goodies u cooked;)

    @happy cook, pooja, rajitha, mansi
    lol... i guess i have to come up with some other recipes to tempt u enough to change ur mind and try BG;) he he he...

    @anuZi,
    u mean, mean girl... wait till i tell ur mom what u did with all yummy bittergourd dishes she cook. by the way, did that dog really eat BG? he he he...

    @bee,
    ah bee! u r girl after my own heart:)

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  37. Sia,
    Well he ate it the first time I gave it to him. But I dont think he appreciated it either hehe. Still I used continue throwing it over the wall. I always thought that there would be a bg tree in in the neighbors yard after sooo many wasted bgs in their garden ;o)

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  38. I am firmly in the LOVE camp.

    So you don't take out the seeds? We take out the seeds and do the salt-thingy just like you :)

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  39. Oh well! These two recipes are craving to be tried and ur photos dont help in my Hate Bitterguard cause! Guess I will give in and give these two a GO!!! and If i ever turn into a bitterguard lover, my mom would have to thank u for that :)

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  40. I would never eat a bitter gourd dish if its not the one that my mum prepares, but I think I am gonna bend the rules for this delicious rasam! :)

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  41. I always see them on the market but I did not know what to do with them... now I know! :) Thank you, Margot

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  42. :) even i hated karela but good fried ones are a delight...

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  43. very nice healthy recpie.i have tried it and came out good.

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