OK. I made this for the first time in my life today. I have had it before but never cared to learn how to cook this vegetable. But as I get bored of cooking the same stuff everyday, bitter melon needed my attention!
Bitter melon is a vegetable that originated in South Asia. The vegetable has a distinct warty looking exterior and an oblong shape. It is hollow in cross-section, with a relatively thin layer of flesh surrounding a central seed cavity filled with large flat seeds and pith. Bitter melon comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. The bitter melon more typical of India has a narrower shape with pointed ends, and a surface covered with jagged, triangular "teeth" and ridges. Coloration is green or white. Bitter melon has great medicinal value and stimulates digestion, aids in curing diabetes, HIV, malaria and so on. It's a vegetable high in vitamins, specially vitamin C. Who would be stuck up on it's appearance after knowing all this? Not I.
Bitter melon is stuffed with spices and then fried in oil, which is very popular in North Indian cuisine. The bitterness is mellowed down by the sweetness of fried onions stuffed in the shell to create a perfect balance to truely awaken your taste buds. Here is how you go about it:
1. 1 medium sized onion, sliced into thin slices
2. Olive oil for frying
2. 1 teaspoon fennel powder (sauf)
3. Salt to taste
4. 1.5 teaspoons coriander powder
5. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
6. 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
7. 1 teaspoon amchoor powder (dried mango)
8. 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1. Lightly peel the triangular 'teeth' ridges of the melon.
2. In a pan, heat olive oil. Then lightly fry the melons on medium heat until it turns blackish. Keep turning to avoid burning. When done, remove from the heat and let cool.
3. When cool, slice the melon vertically and remove the seeds from the inside. All we need is the shell.
4. Lightly coat the inside of the melon with a pinch of turmeric and salt.
For the masala
1. In a separate pan, heat olive oil then add sauf.
2. Fry onions and sauf until the onions turn golden brown. The sauf (fennel) and fried onion counter the bitterness of the vegetable.
4. Add sauf powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, salt and cook for 5-10 minutes.
5. Let this cool.
Add the masala inside the slits of the melon. Cook the melon on low heat for about 5 minutes.
Serve with steamed rice and dahl.