Here is another sabji that adds to the healthy food regime. However, whether it is healthy or not depends on the way you make it. I have come across umpteen forms of karela which would remove it’s bitterness by squeezing them out using salt, deep fry them, boil them in salt water etc etc. However, I feel that it is the bitterness that is the good and healthy part in the vegetable, more since I have seen a person selling ‘karela juice’ at a spot near the morning walk area in my hometown. It is pure and bitter, and the guy always has an empty tumbler in an hour’s time!
You have to genuinely appreciate and enjoy the bitterness to accept this vegetable in your daily diet. That is what my (my mom’s) version does – cut up the gourd and cook it with minimal oil – coat it with a sprinkling of besan/ chickpea flour – another healthy ingredient. The only vice I find in this is that it turns out to be a bit dry – and has to be accompanied by a daal in the side. This also is an ideal accompaniment to carry for train travels.
Karela with Besan – Cant get healthier than that!
Karela / Bitter Gourd – half kg
Besan / Chickpea Flour – 2 tbsp (flat, not heaped)
Oil – 1.5 tsp
Jeera / Cumin seeds – half tsp
Ajwain / Carom seeds – half tsp
Salt – as per taste
Haldi/ Turmeric Powder – half tsp
Laal Mirch / Red chili powder – 1 tsp
Dhania / Dry coriander powder – 2 tsp
Garam masala – half tsp
1. Cut the karela – first vertically, lengthwise into two halves. Chop each half in small moons. Discard mature, hard seeds. The soft ones are ok.
2. Wash the chopped vegetables under running water. If you do want to reduce the bitterness, here is what you can do – sprinkle salt on the chopped pieces and let it rest for 15 minutes. Pick up the pieces in handfuls and squeeze as hard as you can – the vegetable will ooze out water – and the bitterness too. I skip this step.
3. In a non-stick pan, heat the oil. Once hot, add jeera, ajwain, haldi, laal mirch. Let these sizzle for half a minute.
4. Add the karela pieces. Mix gently and cook covered. After every 5 to 7 minutes, remove the lid and mix gently.
5. After 15 minutes, try to cut up a piece with a spoon. If it breaks easily, the sabji is done. By this time, it would have started to turn golden-yellow-brown too.
6. At this stage, add salt, garam masala and dhania powder and mix.
7. Sprinkle the besan now. Mix gently so that the besan coats all the pieces. If you see the deal getting too dry, sprinkle some water. (hoping you know the difference between sprinkle and pour – we are just trying to add some moisture!).
8. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes and you are done.
Like most of typical marathi families, I was totally committed to my ‘phon-ni cha waran’, which is essentially toor/ arhar daal. You eat it day and night, every day of the week – unless someone is sick and needs moong daal or it is Sunday-special chole. Post wedding, my soul-mate also became my daal-mate – come what may, he needed his bowl of toor daal everyday, for normal functioning of his faculties. We both kept lapping it up happily till my gestational diabetes days. I was given a strict diet chart to follow and toor daal was a ‘no no’ – reason being its high glycemic index. I was advised to go for different daals, which had more fiber and most important was the emphasis on chana daal, because of its low glycemic index. A bag of 5 kg chana daal was procured asap and I began including chana daal in our staple diet. Both me and hubby started to like the flavor and texture. Since potatoes were banned too, I mostly ate lauki / bottlegourd. It is then that I started making lauki chana daal and the combination suited me too well – it was healthy, could be eaten with rotis and thick enough to be carried in my lunch box to work. The love for this veggie-lentil combo continues till date, to the extent that N buys 2 laukis every time ( I know you will make one with chana daal. Make a veggie side out of the other one!). Trust me, it is so filling that I sometimes skip the roti and eat a bowlful of this daal as a meal in itself. Thankfully, even baby A loves it with rice and I feel happy about feeding lauki to her in this form.
Lauki Chana Daal
Lauki / bottlegourd – 1, green and fresh
Chana daal – 2 cups
Tomatoes – 1 big or 2 small
Adrak – half inch piece
Green chilies – 2, slit length wise
Whole, dried red chilies – 2 (optional)
Meetha Neem (Kadi Patta) – a handful of fresh, green leaves (optional)
Haldi – 1 tsp
Heeng – 1 tsp
Jeera – 1 tsp
Rai – 1 tsp
Salt – as per taste
Lemon juice – of half a lemon (optional)
Oil – half tbsp
1. Peel and chop the lauki to small pieces – smaller they are, the better they blend with the daal. Discard the middle portion flesh of the lauki if it looks pale and has big seeds.
2. Wash the chana daal twice with flowing water.
3. Put both lauki pieces and daal in a pressure cooker. Add 3 cups of water. Also add in haldi and salt.
4. Grate the tomatoes or chop them fine. Grate or pound the ginger. Add both of them to the pressure cooker.
5. Close the pressure cooker and cook till 4 to 5 whistles. Remember that chana daal takes longer to cook through.
6. Let the pressure subside and open the cooker. Mix everything lightly using a ladle.
7. Heat oil in a pan.
8. Once hot, add the rai and jeera and let them splutter for 10 seconds. Add the heng, green chili pieces, dried red chilies and kari patta leaves (if using). Let this mixture sizzle for a 30-40 seconds.
9. Add the cooked daal-lauki to the pan. Add more water if required. Taste and adjust seasonings.
10. Let this simmer on a sim flame, till it reaches a soupy consistency. Add the lemon juice towards the end.
11. Serve with rotis or rice or eat as it is.
Different lentils mentioned in this post –
Toor / arhar daal = yellow pigeon peas
Moong daal = green gram
Chana Daal = split Bengal gram
Chole = chickpeas
I thought I better jot this one down as soon as possible, after a telephonic conversation with my mom, which ended with my mom yelling – “First, you don’t know what goes into the pudina chutney you have been eating since years. Second, you are trying to convince ME that MY pudina chutney contains dhania! What’s wrong with you! “ OMG! Seriously..what have I been doing? I always ate my mom’s tangy pudina chutney by bowlfuls and never ever bothered to know what goes into it except pudina and raw mango – which were the only distinct flavors. I just assumed dhania is added as an inert component, if not lending its flavor, maybe the green color? But no! As I stood with a huge bunch of dhania, pudina and green mango in front of me, the captioned phone call rendered the dhania (which I procured @ 200rs/kg) useless.
So here is the keeper for me and for anyone else who thinks all green chutneys have one default ingredient.
Pudina Chutney – cool and refreshing
Pudina/ Fresh Mint leaves – 1.5 cups packed, after sorting out the stalks.
Kairi / Green, raw mango – 1 big (peel, cut into pieces, discard the seed, pray that it is sour enough)
Hari mirch / Green chili – 1 big (again, you may want to increase or decrease this as per taste)
Adrak / Ginger – ½ inch piece (peeled)
Gud/ Jaggery – 1 tbsp, grated (you may need to increase this based on 1. How sour is your mango 2. how sweet you like things to be)
Salt – ½ tsp
Jeera – ½ tsp
Put all ingredients in a blender jar and blend them together. If the pudina leaves have been washed right before, it will have enough moisture. Else, you may need to spoon in some water. Make sure it doesn’t get too runny.
Store in a steel/ glass container in the refrigerator. Stays good for 3-4 days.
Enjoy with anything and everything!
Sending this to the ‘Serve it – Blended‘ event at blog ‘ Oh Taste n See’.
Also linking it to Kirthi’s page.