To be honest! I hated bitter gourd or Karela as we call them in India when I was a child. So bitter! I mean, which school going kid likes Karela or for that matter Parmal, Ghiya, Tori. Yuck! Where these green vegetables are concerned, Mom tried her level best to camouflage them with other colorful sabzis or mix them in such a manner that I would never know, but the smart kid that I was, I instantly spotted her attempts at deceptive imagery.
Things started changing when I was growing up. Just like a bitter person is the last one anyone befriends, the bitter karela took me some time to get used to. Perhaps, I had started realizing its worth. Where its medicinal benefits are concerned it is the King. It is a natural hypoglycemic and as such used to treat diabetes. It helps in the cure of skin diseases, fever, abdominal pain and boosts the treatment of HIV and AIDS. It is said to help cure alcoholism, losing weight and easing out respiratory problems.
Bitter Gourd has usually taken the place of a side dish; one among the many served on the table. I have started enjoying it as a snack too. Of recent, it has become more visible in Namkeen shops; deep-fried and spiced up to give a crunchy tangy kick. Today is “Sabzi Tarkari Din”, an initiative started by Rushina Ghildiyal to celebrate the bountiful produce grown in our country and highlight the vegetables that every Indian meal is incomplete about. While I have eaten Karela mostly scraped and filled with masalas before mummified with a white thread in kitchens, on this special celebration it is my attempt to celebrate this underrated vegetable and place it in the center of the table as the main dish. I chose to stuff it with Chicken Keema and shallow fry it before pouring a special thick sauce to add more gloss to its appearance and richness to its taste. I hope you make it and relish it as much as we did. Which vegetable marked a place on your thali today? Do you have a special recipe for this vegetable? Do share. I would love to hear from you.