Onion and Bitter Melon sabzi

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Master Chef
Nov 21, 2018
Woodbury, NJ
I made a relatively simple vegetable side dish, to serve with Indian foods. I have all those bitter melons I have to use, and this will be reheatable, for me to take it to an Indian friend's house tomorrow. I can still smell that browned onion smell throughout the house!

I cut open both varieties, and as you can see, the round one is definitely more developed, with fairly large seeds, while the long one is not very developed. The white pith, that I scooped out of all of them, didn't taste bitter at all, and when I sampled the different ones, in the cooked dish, neither seemed more bitter, or different at all in flavor. The finished dish was not very bitter, with a balance of sweet, from the jaggery and onion, and some sour from the amchur. They will definitely like this, and I'll make one of those chutneys to take over, too - maybe a tomato one.

The dish is a little salty, but I must have salted too much, and too long (I left it while getting the onion and everything else ready, and some other things around the kitchen), with that 20 minute salting called for in the recipe. Next time I'll use just 1/2 tsp, and make sure I don't go too long.

At first, the vegetables weren't browning at all, so I bumped the heat up to 3 the last few minutes, which is more like a med-low, and they started browning some. Then the last 2 minutes with the seasonings were on medium - 4 on this induction burner. I only ate a little, but it will reheat well, I'm sure.

Here's the recipe:

Bitter melons halved, round Big Top, and long Number One, getting ready to scoop out seeds. by pepperhead212, on Flickr

Onion and Bitter Melons for the sabzi, cooked 10 minutes, with no browning. by pepperhead212, on Flickr

Finished Onion and Bitter Melon sabzi. by pepperhead212, on Flickr

Thank you for this recipe, and your detailed experience of the melons. There's always available at the South Asian grocery stores but I've been afraid to try them. They look a little... intimidating... and having 'bitter' in their name just added to it!
You've given me the courage to try your recipe!
no idea

Honestly, I have no idea about this dish. I think it tastes strange :angel: Take an image
I was wondering how she could have no idea about the dish, yet she thinks it tastes strange.

BTW, my Indian friends that I took it to today liked it, and she said that she wants to grow that next year, for sure! I told her I had tried starting two of each of them, and was going to give her the extras, like with everything else, but they are just a pain to germinate. Hopefully, I'll have better luck next year.
I love this recipe. I made this many times on my own. But there was a slight change in my recipe. I added a small number of potatoes along with Onion and Bitter Melon. Which helps to reduce the bitterness of Bitter Melon.
pepperhead, I get the impression they are as easy to grow as cucumbers?

I've never tried bitter melon. I watched a few youtubes on saving seeds from the more ripe yellow ones with red berries seeds.

The farmer's market near us didn't have them but our grocery store had some, so mr bliss picked up two. I'm going to give this dish a try and see if we like it.
blissful They are very easy to grow; the hardest part about growing them is starting the seeds. This year, I had another variety that I couldn't get to germinate at all, and the two I have I only got one of 3 of each to grow! Also, like cucumbers, some seem more prone to disease - that Number One seems very productive, and resistant, and has not started getting ripe too quickly, which some are also prone to, probably something due to the days getting shorter.

Thanks for the information Pepperhead. The information on growing them. I think it would be fun to try. We bought cattle panels and have arches for growing vining plants and I'm assuming they vine like cucumbers...yes?

I watched a video from Baker's Creek Seeds, collecting bitter melon seeds. He didn't have the information on whether they'd have the germination % necessary to sell them yet. It looked like he treated them like tomato seeds, fermenting them for 3 days or so in the slimy berry like substance around them, then power washing them off and then saving them.
This is funny - I just mentioned these were not prone to turning ripe early, and today both have started turning orange! :LOL: I got one more totally green Number one, and some knarled ones of both types - something that starts with them, once the ripening starts. I might pull that Big Top plant, and pull all the fruits on the Number One, and let new ones form on it, and it won't cross pollinate that way. Once these start ripening quickly, they are getting more bitter, as a rule, and not worth eating, just saving seeds from.
Number One bitter melon ripening on 7-30 by pepperhead212, on Flickr

Big Top bitter melon, ripening the same day as the Number One, 7-30 by pepperhead212, on Flickr

Pepperhead, since you have your hands on them....could you taste them as they get more ripe....the stuff I read and the youtubes said the opposite. They said, firm and dark green, very bitter, lighter green, less bitter, orange/yellow, sweet little to no bitterness......but you've tasted the opposite?

The guy saving seeds, from yellow/orange, with red seeds and most of the pithy area was gone.
blissful I definitely noticed various types getting more bitter when ripe. I even noticed it getting more bitter as the seeds got more mature looking, and shortly after this they started ripening, when smaller - I think it has something to do with the days getting shorter. However, those white ones that Baker Creek sells do get sweeter, and they actually eat the gel around the ripe seeds; though that is an unusual variety, there might be some others similar. However, the only white variety in one Asian seed source is rated medium bitterness, not mild, though I'm still curious about it, because of the size.


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