The Bitter Truth
There are clearly two categories of people. First, those who somehow manages to adore bitter gourd ( karela ) and second, those who try to escape the extreme bitterness of this ugly looking green vegetable. I am happily in the second category, partly in denial of the first.
When something has bitter in its name itself, how can you make it a part of a child's daily diet? The answer lies in the will of every Indian mother. When all efforts fail, the only way available is " by force ". That is what has been done in every Bengali household since ages. Starting your lunch with some crispy fried neem leaves or some Ucche ( Karela / Bitter gourd ) bhaja ( fried ) as an appetizer is a common affair. Loaded with nutrients, this bitter vegetable had never been able to win my heart. But as " karwa sach " (the bitter truth ) as it is, one should eat to live and not live to eat, adding this vegetable in your diet is compulsory. Rich in antioxidants as well as great for boosting your immune system, this green spiky thing has been working as a true appetizer. Every time you manage to swallow a morsel of this, you would want to neutralise its taste with something tastier, thus automatically would eat the other carbs and proteins right. So bitter gourd, however ugly and bitter it's taste might be, it wonderfully cleans up your palette and flushes out the toxins.
Mothers have always come up with some techniques to make this crooked thing eatable. TETOR DAAL is one such example. A few of the Bengali mothers add pumpkin, a naturally sweet vegetable to magically make the Ucche Bhaja quite enjoyable. Sometimes you can add a few peanuts to get that extra crunch in your mouth which would actually make you want to have a few more bites before swallowing it down giving a nice after taste instead.
So, Ucche - Kumro Bhaja, a bitter sweet experience, necessary for detoxifying and an acquired taste will surely make you feel good about your diet after a weekend full of junk. Begin your meal with a little bitterness so that you value the delectable like Kosha Mangsho much more !!
- Ucche / Karela / Bitter gourd - 250 grams. Cut into thin circles. Remove the bigger seeds and can keep the smaller ones if you want.
- Kumro / Pumpkin - 250 grams. Peel and cut into small cubes.
- Peanuts - a fistful
- Mustard oil - 3 - 4 teaspoons
- Turmeric powder - 1 teaspoon
- Smear the ucche pieces with turmeric and salt and leave them be for around 20 minutes. This will make the ucche pieces lose water and hence would require much less oil to shallow fry them.
- Heat up the kadhai and add in the oil.
- Throw in the peanuts and wait for them to brown. Take them out. Remember to keep the flame low.
- Squeeze out the water from the ucche pieces and add them in the kadhai. Keep the flame low and cover the kadhai and wait for them to cook through.
- After around 10 minutes, add in another teaspoon of oil and throw in the pumpkin pieces. Cover the kadhai and let everything cook together.
- After waiting for another 10 minutes, you would find everything cooked well. Add the shallow fried peanuts. Mix everything together and your Ucche - Kumro Bhaja is ready.
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