Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Karela Bhaji

I was never a big fan of Karela (Bitter Gourd) until I ate it this way. Now I crave this bhaji every week. I think this bhaji is a great combination of flavors - bitter from the karela of course, sweet (gul/jaggery), sour (tamarind), salty, spicy and crunchy (peanuts).

Here's how I make Karelyachi Patal Bhaji (Bitter Ground Gravy Vegetable):

1. Wash the karelas and slit length wise. Deseed and remove remove any pulp in the center. Chop the karelas fairly fine. Sprinkle abt 1 tsp salt and leave for 1/2 hour.

2. After 1/2 hour, squeeze out as much water as possible from the karelas. I like to wrap the karela pieces in a thin cloth or handkerchief to help squeeze out the juice. For about 1 cup of chopped karelas, I got little over 1/4 cup juice. I usually throw this juice away, but I know people use it for medicinal purposes too.

 3. In a pressure pan, make the tempering by heating 2 tsp oil, dropping 1 tsp mustard seeds and after they stop crackling, adding 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and 1/4 tsp hing. Then add few curry leaves and the karela. Saute for abt 3 mins. Add 1 cup water, 1/4 cup shredded coconut, 2 tbsp. roughly chopped peanuts, salt to taste (remember the karela will already be slightly salty), 1/2 tbsp. tamarind paste, 2 tbsp. gul/jaggery, 1 tsp goda masala, 1 tsp coriander-cumin pwd, 1 tsp red chilli pwd. Give it a good stir, close the pressure pan and cook for 1 whistle.

4. When the pressure comes down, open the pan. You may need to adjust water and seasonings, if needed at this time. I have not done so, but if you add more water/seasonings, give it one boil. Serve hot/warm with polya.

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