I absolutely love bitter gourd regularly in my diet. My two favourite ways of using this is as a juice and dry vegetable with onions and tomatoes. In order to make an effective body cleanse, I usually prepare this together for an evening meal with rotis or parathas once a week. Bitter gourd is an excellent source of calcium, iron, magnesium and vitamins including vitamin C. It strengthens the immune system and helps the body in fighting allergies. It is also great for regulating the digestive system and adds to dietary fibre. In addition, bitter gourd is filled with anti oxidants and works wonders to cleanse the liver. In order to maintain good health we must keep our internal organs clean and healthy too. And bitter foods are great for the liver in particular andfor boosting the digestive system in general.
RECIPE: BITTER GOURD JUICE
One large bitter gourd (I use the Chinese variety which is much larger in size. If you are using the more familiar Indian one you will need 3 or 4 of these)
- One lime
- One tea spoon rock salt
To prepare the bitter gourd for juicing, first clean it thoroughly and then slice off the ends. Then slice the bitter gourd through the centre and remove the seeds and the white or red cottony coating inside. The bitter gourd can now be put into the juicer. Once the juice is extracted, remove into a larger container and add equal quantity of drinking water. Add the juice of one whole lime and also one tea spoon of rock salt. Taste this now and see how you feel. The measurements I have given are usually just right for my taste buds but if you are new to this, then maybe add a bit more water or lime juice to reduce the bitterness. Have this immediately or let this chill in the fridge for some time.
RECIPE: BITTER GOURD VEGETABLE
There are many ways to prepare bitter gourd. You can make this Bharva style, or prepare with other vegetables. I enjoy this best with onions and tomatoes like a regular vegetable dish.
- One large bitter gourd (or 4-5 small variety)
- One onion chopped
- Two tomatoes chopped
- Green chilli chopped
- One te spooan cumin
- One tea spoon garam masala
- One tea spoon Kashmiri lal mirch
- Hing-one pinch
- 2-3 tea spoonsaamchur (dry mango powder)
- Oil-2-3 tablespoons
To prepare the vegetable, first wash the bitter gourd thoroughly. Then remove the ends and cut open. I remove all the seeds and only leave the cottony white part inside where there are no seeds. You can check by pressing it with your fingers to feel for the hidden seeds. Then I slice this again in the centre and then chop into smaller bite size pieces.
Heat oil in a pan. Add hing and jeera. Add the onions and green chilli and sauté for about two minutes. Then add the remaining dry ingredients (except for the aamchur which is added at the end). Now add the chopped bitter gourd and stir well. Cover and let cook for five minutes. Now add the salt and tomatoes. Cover and let cook, stirring occasionally till the bitter gourd is cooked through. When it’s done, turn off the flame and add the dry mango powder. Voila! Your dish is ready! I love bitter gourd with freshly made parathas, which I usually have once a week along with bitter gourd juice. Hope you too will try out these recipes and include this amazing food in your diet.
Ms Aditi Pathak is based in Singapore. Widely travelled and from a Services background, cooking is one of her many passions.