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Old 11-04-2011, 01:14 PM   #1
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How to cut down the bitterness of bitter gourd?

I am looking for some ideas and/or recipes to prepare bitter gourd. As the name suggests it is bitter and I find it very difficult to cut down the bitterness, no matter how I cook it. For those who are familiar with South Asia, would know bitter gourd as 'karela'.

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Old 11-04-2011, 02:24 PM   #2
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I'm often tickled by the serendipities and coincidences here at DC. It just so happens that I bought some two days ago and took pics (Indian bitter melons). I haven't decided yet whether to mix them up in scrambled eggs for a weekend breakfast, or stir-fry them with beef in black bean sauce for dinner...



I grew up eating them, so the bitterness doesn't bother me. Most people cannot overcome the human evolutionary instinct to immediately spit this vegetable out for suspicion that its alkaloids will probably poison and kill you. To neutralize it, some people soak the slices to be cooked in slightly acidic (vinegar) water for half an hour. The Chinese bitter melons at your local supermarkets are more mild, and they lose most of their bitterness in the cooking process.
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Old 11-04-2011, 02:50 PM   #3
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... just remembered that I also have a pic of the Chinese bitter melon in my camera.

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Old 11-04-2011, 07:56 PM   #4
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Its actually quite easy. You peel and slice the bittergourd and then add a nice amount of salt to it and leave it for an hour. After and hour, you take handfuls and squeeze the water out of it (salt helps release the bitter juices). Once you squeeze all the water out you can cook it.

I normally cook mine with lots of sliced onions that I caramalize and then my traditional indian spices (turmeric, chili, corrainder and cumin powder) and then add the karela (just remember not to salt them again) and then once they are cooked I finish them with a squeeze of lime and a viola, my favorite veggie is ready to eat.
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Old 11-05-2011, 11:25 AM   #5
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I haven't tried the Chinese bitter melons. I should pick some up next time I am at the Chinese store. Thanks for the pic spork.

Yakuta, have you ever tried stuffed karela? My sister in law makes it, stuffed with chopped onions, sauteed with some spices. I like the idea of adding a squeeze of lime. Some days I just find them too bitter for my liking and keep thinking of ways to tone it down.
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Old 11-06-2011, 10:19 AM   #6
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Yep I make stuffed Karela as well but only if I get the small one. I follow the same method to get the bitterness out of it. I like to stuff mine with either seasoned mashed potatoes or seasoned ground meat. Both taste awesome, Karela is one my favorite veggies.
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Old 04-02-2014, 01:44 PM   #7
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seems like a pretty old post and you must have found your answer by now.But heres how I take care of it:
1)If you are buying an Indian Variety buy the smallest ones available. "Karela" goes bitter as it ages ( and grows in size).

2) For preparation I have two methods:
a) Either do it like most of the people including me do - marinate the karela with generous amount of salt and keep it aside for 15-30 mins. squeeze them after 15-30 mins nicely (I even wash it once as I really can not stand its bitter flavor at all in the curry) and use it for the curry. The bitter salty water can be taken as a shot alone consoling yourself that you've not wasted anything and you are getting its health benefits :P

b)If you are in a hurry or do not like the idea of marinating in the salt, you can make the way my MIL makes.Before slicing or nicking the karela, make sure you have done every other preparation. As the bitterness of a Karela enhances once its cut (shocked when I came across this tip but this is really a good one). So make sure u immediately put the karela in oil after cutting.
The first method makes Karela absolutely without bitterness, The second one if you do correctly makes one with just a hint of bitter flavor.
3) another tip - if you realize that your karela still came out bitter, make it sweet and sour way- add some tamarind paste and some jaggery (or sugar) after they are cooked. heat for a minute. and thats it. They taste fantastic and totally cover the bitter flavor!

And Thanks for the vinegar and chinese gourd tip :D can't wait to try.
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