I have never been a fan of karela or bitter gourd. As the name suggests karelas can be very bitter and that is why as a kid (and adult!) I had a tough time eating this vegetable (fruit?). Its the kind of vegetable that people either hate or love. And although I would like to say I hate it, because of its nutritional benefits, its something that I keep trying to love.
Even though bitter gourd can be very bitter, it is full with benefits for your body and the only reason why when V suggested we buy some from the Indian grocery store I did not refuse. In India, a lot of diabetics have bitter gourd juice since it is known to reduce blood sugar levels. Besides being good for diabetics, bitter gourd also has other nutritional benefits, and is rich in vitamins and minerals. It is supposed to be a good cure for hangover too. Karele ka juice is also great for treating acne and clearing your skin up. Being low in calorie it is also great for those trying to keep a watch on that waist line.
One does have to get past its taste though to reap the benefits of Karela. But as I learnt with this recipe, if prepared correctly, you can remove much of the bitterness and actually get a dish that even I enjoyed. One of the most popular way to reduce the bitterness is to salt the bitter gourd and leave it for some time. Then squeeze the juice out, wash the gourd and cook it. I reserve the squeezed out juice and drink it like a shot, that ways I don’t lose out on any of the nutrients in the juice. Of course I wince with every gulp I take, but I keep reminding myself of the benefits and see myself through. Frying the gourd is another way to reduce the bitterness.
My grandmother would make a stuffed karela recipe which everyone enjoyed. Hers was the only way I would eat, if I would eat. Unfortunately, my grandmom is no more and I never got a chance to take the recipe from her because I never thought I would willingly make karela at home.
Methi Parantha/paratha or whole flatbread made with fenugreek leaves, garlic and carrom seeds
Living in Dallas has its perks. One of them is that we don’t have to drive 4 hours to get indian groceries and indian produce. Even though we still have to drive 30 minutes for indian groceries (since all the stores are in the suburbs and we stay close to downtown Dallas), it still beats a 4 hour drive.
On our recent trip to the indian store I picked up some fresh fenugreek leaves. I use dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi) all the time in my cooking. A tbsp of dried leaves, briefly rubbed between palms and then tossed into a curry gives a lovely flavor to gravies- and that’s why I always use them in my butter chicken and dal makhani recipe.
Fenugreek seeds are another way to get that sweet yet slightly bitter flavor to a dish. When adding seeds to a dish, add them in the beginning and use them sparingly and also make sure not to burn them as then they become very bitter and might spoil the taste of your dish. Using a combination of both- seeds and kasoori methi will give you the best results, especially when making butter chicken.
While I love cooking with fenugreek seeds and dried leaves, when I get my hands on fresh leaves, methi parantha is my favorite way to enjoy this herb. And I found out from my facebook post, a favorite of many others. Its popularity is completely deserved.
Parantha/Paratha is an unleavened indian flatbread made with whole wheat flour. They are not as thick as a naan, but not as thin as a roti- with their thickness lying somewhere in between. There are many variations of parantha. It could be stuffed with vegetables, aloo parantha being a popular stuffed variation or it could be plain. If there is one meal I could eat morning evening and night- it would be paranthas. After all, I am from Punjab, and our paranthas are very dear to us.
Vegetable Rava Uttapam – easy and quick uttapams made with rava or sooji or semolina.
When I was in college in Delhi and staying in the AFWWA hostel, every Tuesday for breakfast we would get Uttapam. I generally never had time to eat breakfast; I was always running late. I would get the Uttapams packed and take it to college to eat later in the day, grabbing my fruit and eating that as breakfast. Even on days when I did have time to eat breakfast, I would make it a point to pack 2 or 3 since my friends had gotten used to them and looked forward to Tuesday Uttapams. I miss college days!
I don’t cook much south indian fare at home, even though I love dosa, idli, sambhar. I am more comfortable with cooking north indian cuisine and stick to that. My idlis are generally made from a packet or are the quick rava idlis I have posted before. The only time I have cooked dosas from a scratch batter is when my friend was kind enough to loan me some of hers. Once I did try fermenting my own batter but it was a huge fail. This was when I had just started cooking about 6 years back, and ever since I have just stuck to eating dosas outside or counting on my south indian friends to make them for me.