17 January 2010

Signs of growing up: karela (bittergourd) bhaaji

It's pretty funny, isn't it? The very things you think as a child you will 'ban' once you grow up are the things you enjoy as an adult. Take karelas (or bitter gourds), for instance. I hated them when I was little, but I have been enjoying this bitter veggie in the last few years. I don't know when the change happened but seems like a sign of me growing up (N doesn't agree veggies should be the gauge of determining maturity but I do!)

This weekend I made karela bhaaji (thats what we call sabzis or curries in Mumbai); this is a very easy recipe and takes about 30 mins to make. I made it based on a recipe from Hamkhaas Pakshiddhi by Mrs. Jayashree Deshpande; a cookbook aai gave me when I got married. Mrs. Deshpande almost seems my like culinary mom to me now! The tamarind and jaggery (this is unrefined sugar with a distinct taste) in the recipe complement the bitterness of the gourd superbly and the roasted sesame seeds lend a lovely taste.

1/2 lbs (3-4 medium sized) fresh karela/bittergourds
1 tbsp sesame seeds
tadka ingredients (1 tsp mustard, 1/8 tsp asafoetida, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder)
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp goda masala (this is a typical Marathi masala; use garam masala if you don't have it)
1/2 tsp tamarind pulp
1-2 tbsp jaggery (substitute with sugar if you dont have jaggery; start with one tbsp and add more if you wish, depending on how much bitterness you can tolerate)
2 tbsp oil (Mrs. D says 3 tbsp in her recipe but I couldn't help cutting it down to two)
salt to taste

-Dry roast the sesame seeds and powder coarsely.
-Wash the gourds thoroughly; remove the outer ridges a little if you wish (i kept them intact). Cut the gourds into thin rings
-Take about 1.5 tbsp oil in a heavy bottomed vessel, add the gourd rings and saute/fry them in the oil till the seeds turn brown and crispy (took me about 10 mins). Remove the rings and set aside.
- Add the remaining oil in the vessel and add the tadka ingredients.
- Once the mustard seed sputter, add the gourd rings, tamarind, jaggery, salt, chilli powder, sesame seed powder and goda masala. Add 2 cups of water and cover. Lower the heat to medium and let it cook for atleast 10-15 mins. Stir once in a while.
-After about 10-15 mins, the bhaaji should be ready. Cook a little longer on high heat if there is lots of water left and you want to thicken the gravy.
-Garnish with cilantro leaves. Once done, your bhaaji will look like this! Serve with hot rotis or dal-rice. Lovely comfort food!

Mrs. Deshpande has two lovely tips on cooking bitter gourds:
1. Covering the gourds while cooking results in a bhaaji that is not-very-bitter (true, I vouch).
2. Because you pre-fry/saute the gourd rings, they stay pretty crispy till the end.

I am also sending this recipe to Cooking with seeds- Sesame Seed Events hosted by Priya's EasyNTasty Recipes



Priya said...

Hi Vinaya, first time here, thanks for sending ur delectable bhaaji to my event, happy to get this delicious curry coz bittergourd as my fav veggies, thanks a lot for ur encouraging words..Do visit me often:)

Ms.Chitchat said...

Nice and healthy veggie. Loved the pic and the recipe too.


notyet100 said...

this looks delicious,...nd perfect never tried karela with sesame seeds

Deepa G Joshi said...

wow..never thought bitter gourd could look so could and tempting..

Rachana Kothari said...

I agree with Deepa, bitter gourd surely looks really tempting:)
Welcome to the blogging world:)


Rujuta said...

Hi Vinaya,

Even I love karela bhaji ani Jayashree Deshpandech pustak mhanje kharach hamkhas paksiddi ahe..... she is my culinary guide too.....

Vinaya said...

Thanks for your kind words and following my blog..it means a lot!

Lovely to see you back LadyChitchat...this one is definitely one of my healthier recipes!

Notyet100, I hadnt tried sesame seeds in karela sabzi either but beleive me, they taste awesome :)

Deepa, I would have agreed with you 10 yrs back but now I am a changed woman :) Thanks so much for visiting my blog!

Rachana, thanks a ton for your lovely comment and following my blog..you have a lovely blog yourself!

Rujuta,you are so right about the cookbook..its my best source for everydy cooking! Thanks so much for following my blog :)

shobi_dev said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
shobi_dev said...

Hi vinaya,
I tried this receipe today. It came out very well. As I didn't have sesame seeds, I used peanuts instead. Even then it was good. Thanks for posting it.


Vinaya said...

Shobhana, am so glad you liked it...thanks so mcuh for your lovely comment!

Jagruti said...

Hi Vinaya

First time here and you have a very nice space here...Karela bhaji loks tempting and this one is new to me that you can use sesame seeds in there...thanks for sharing..

cheers and do visit


s said...

Terrific blog....will be back to read ALL ur posts!

Anonymous said...

This karela bhaaji looks delicious!
The bestest and goes well with rice and dalitoy! :-)

Vinaya said...

Thanks so much..I hope you will try the recipe and let me know your thoughts!

Your comment made my day..would love to hear what you think about the rest of my posts :)

You are so right- it goes superbly with dalitoy (one of my fav GSB dals ever!)

Supriya Nair said...

This looks very good...I am not an ardent fan of bitter gourd but still keen to try this for sure! You have a wonderful space here...

Siddhi S said...

Hi vinaya, this is my first visit to ur blog, u have a beautiful space here with yummy recipes and other info also...this bitter gourd sabzi luks delicious, i love bitter gourd and i loved the mst all the ingredients used by u in it to reduce its bitterness so vl try it surely now.I am following ur blog so that i can track all ur yummy forth coming future recipes and visit them.


Sheetal Kiran said...

Ahh .. another wonderful, karela preparation. I am quite fond of karelas, and when they are stir-fried and crunchy -- that's absolute perfection in my books! Looks really tempting, Vinaya!

Have an award waiting for you over at my blog!

Padhu said...

New to your blog.Bitter gourd bhajji is tempting me .Do drop by
http://padhuskitchen.blogspot.com/ when time permits

Nithu Bala said...

Hi, first time here..came from priya's round up..love your recipe..you have a wonderful space dear..happy to follow you..

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minu said...

hi everybody ,
Nice to see your comments about my aai she is an excellent cook ....i really miss my mom's food i stay in bangalore ...and jayashree my mom stays in pune i haven't tried this sabji at at but i have tried making cakes i do mot refer her book since i can talk to her directly but she is a super mom & excellent cook thanks for such lovely blogs !!