Bitter Gourd Srilankan Style
Bitter Gourd………The name says it all. Oh my God it’s bitter. Actually the skin of bitter gourd reminds me of, excuse my imagination, “crocodiles”. The dark green color and the bumps on the crocodile’s back are quite similar to the ones on bitter gourd. You see what I mean???????
Seems like I’m not the only one who thinks that crocodiles and bitter gourds come from the same family…….
Anyway…moving on….did you know that bitter gourd is one man army to fight many illnesses like diabetes, blood disorders, eye problems, stamina level disorders, piles and the list goes on. It is known for being high on Vitamin B1,C, magnesium and has high dietary fiber. And the best part is this vegetable is very low on calories. (Low calories!!!!!!!!)
Yeah yeah I know….. all the health benefits make it sound like the bitter gourd is a wonder veggie but are you forgetting the most prominent factor here?????? It is B..I..T..T..E..R.. Apparently, the smaller bitter gourd is more bitter than the longer version and when the bitter gourd is ripe; that is when the seeds become red in color , it become even more bitter. So let’s keep a simple warning in our minds while cooking this vegetable. You see the red color-it is a code red for bitterness.
Either way, bitter gourd is loved a lot at my house hold. There are many ways to make this sour vegetable into tasty treats and today I am going to try one of my favorite ways of preparing it and that this……drum roll please……. The Sri Lankan bitter gourd curry (karavila kariya)
This is a super easy super tasty dish which goes well with rice, roti or even bread. So without further delay let’s get started.
What we need-
One bitter gourd.(I have taken one large bitter gourd.)
1 cup of coconut milk.(thick/ first hand coconut milk)
Half onion sliced.
2-3 cloves of garlic
Few curry leaves.(I have taken around 7 nos)
3 green chilies
½ tsp of mustard
½ tsp of turmeric
½ tsp of chili powder
½ tsp of cumin powder
½ tsp of Sri Lankan roasted curry powder.**
Half a lemon
Salt to taste.
1 tbsp of oil
Some grated coconut to serve as an accompaniment.
Once you have all the ingredients ready let’s do the mis en place.
1. Clean the bitter gourd well and make thin slices.
2. Take a bowl of water. Add some turmeric and a good amount of salt and soak the bitter gourd in it for at least 30 minutes. It is believed that the salt helps in cutting down the sourness of bitter gourd. So longer the better. I normally soak it for one hour plus.
3. In the meanwhile slice the onions garlic and chilies. I have taken red chilies just to add some color. If you only have green chilies available go ahead with it. There is no hard and fast rule.
Also slice the tomatoes. Take off the seeds as it will make the tomatoes a bit too soggy otherwise. And finally, keep the curry leaves washed and ready.
4. Now you can prepare the coconut milk. If you are using grated coconut and milking it by hand I suggest to add warm water as it will help to extract milk easily. If you are using milk powder, then follow the packet guidelines and prepare one think cup. Psst….try using the freshly squeezed coconut milk as this actually is tastier and healthier.
5. Now let’s get on with the cooking. Take a vessel and heat the oil. I always use clay pots when making Sri Lankan dishes as back home cooking is mostly done in clay pots, which also enhances the taste of the dish.
6. When the oil is hot enough add the mustard seeds.
7. When it starts crackling in the vessel, add the onions and garlic. Sauté till the onions become translucent. This is the indication that the onions are cooked well.
8. Now add the sliced chilies and my favorite….The Curry Leaves.
9. Continue sautéing for few more minutes until your kitchen gets filled with the nicely sautéed curry leaves fragrance. Take a moment to inhale this lovely aroma ladies and gentlemen…… Mmmmmmm…….. I just love this smell.
10. Okay, moving on…..now we can add the spices along with the sliced tomatoes. Turmeric, chili powder, cumin powder and the Sri Lankan roasted curry powder. Also add some salt at this point, say around 1 tsp would do.
11. Allow the spices to get well incorporated into the onion mixture. This will take few minutes. In the mean time drain the salt water from the soaked bitter gourd slices and be prepared to drop them in to the vessel.
12. Let the onions and the spice mixture coat the bitter gourd slices well.
13. Once the spices are evenly distributed we can add the coconut milk mixture.
14. Give it a quick stir and close with a lid, allowing it to cook thoroughly for around 10-15 minutes.
15. When you remove the lid afterwards your dish would look something similar to the below picture. The coconut milk has transferred into an eye pleasing color of yellow and the consistency of the curry is just enough. ( when you pour a ladle full of curry,neither it should not flow like water nor it should be falling off as thick lkumps.)
16. Now squeeze a half a lemon and check for salt. If you think salt is less add some more. Also you can check if the bitter gourd slices are evenly cooked. If not, leave it on for some more time. If everything is just right for your taste, take off from the stove et- volia……your delicious bitter gourd curry is ready to go on to the table.
17. Today I have made some chapattis to go along with this. You can serve this curry with rice or even bread. For additional taste, serve some freshly grated coconut on the side. Trust me on this, you will love the combination of traces of coconut when you take a bite.
**For your information**
What is Sri Lankan roasted curry powder???
This is one hell of an aromatic spice powder mainly used in meat dishes. Traditionally, there are around 13 spices which goes into this. You can eliminate few items from the list as long as you add them fresh into the dish while preparing.
So there you go……. Now you have another recipe to love the bitterest of all- the bitter gourd . till we meet again at another recipe…..enjoy cooking.