Bittergourd saga

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So yesterday I was all ready to make some Goan fish curry when unexpectedly the front bell rang. It was one of S’s friend who kindly took it upon himself,(bless his heart) to bring us some bittergourd or ‘karela’ or ‘pavakka’, all the way from New Jersey. These gourds are grown locally in a farm over there and these were handpicked.
I am not sure if the non-Indian public is aware of this vegetable. It is a quite common veggie in India. In the North they stuff and fry it.If you are from Kerala, I am sure you have been subjected to the horrors of this quite bitter tasting vegetable in many different forms when you were a kid. My mom has made many futile attempts to get me to eat this vegetable. But as I grew older, I somewhat grew out of my dislike but S is a diehard fan of this vegetable.
These beauties are so gorgeous with a waxy outer surface but don’t let these looks deceive you. They are really bitter and one way to get rid of the bitterness is to soak them in salt water and then wash them again, but I believe this will drain away their vitamins too..So I would rather eat it with its bitterness.
There were atleast 20 of these huge gourds sitting in a box just looking at me and I was not sure what to do with them. I couldn’t bear to see them sitting there and so we took some to our dear friends who lived a few miles away, although it was late at night, and shared our bounty with them.
So this morning I set out on my mission of ‘taking care’ of these beauties…

The sun was shining really bright and so I took 4 of them and used my mandolin and cut them into thin slices and put them out in the sun to dry them. After two days in the sun, they will turn brown and crisp and they can be stored to be fried later.

Then I took another 3 of them and made the following dish
I took this recipe from a malayalam cookbook by Mrs. K.M.Mathew and it turned out quite nice. S will be quite happy to see this treat for dinner….

Bitter gourd with shredded coconut
(pavakka thoran)

Ingredients

Finally chopped bitter gourd 1 cup
Finally chopped onion 1 cup
Salt as needed
Oil 3 tsp ( I used coconut oil)
Mustard seeds half tsp
Raw rice 1 tsp
Hot green peppers 4( cut each into two)
Grated coconut half cup
Finely grated carrot 1/4 cup

Method

1. Boil 1/4 cup of water. Add the bitter gourd and onion to the water. Cover and cook for about 5 mins. When cooked add salt and keep aside.

2. To a hot pan, add oil and then add the mustard seeds and when they start to pop, add the rice. The rice will start to turn into crispies and then add the green peppers. To this add the cooked bitter gourd and the grated coconut. Combine well. Just before serving add the shredded carrot. This adds a nice contrast.

There are another 6 of these pavakka on the kitchen cabinet. I think I will chop those up and freeze them for later.
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