Bitter Gourd aka Bitter Melon
One of the many bitter vegetables loved in India and most Asian countries, these look like members of the marrow family except that their green skins are ridged like that of an alligator – bumpy dark to pale green. It has a slightly bitter quinine flavour that has a cooling effect in one’s mouth, and is believed to be a mild purgative. Indians consider bitter gourd good for cleansing the blood and for diabetes. In Thailand, there are several types of bitter melon, including a very small one that David Thompson of Thai Food says graphically translates as “birds droppings melon” but tastes relatively mild.
To prepare bitter gourd, scrape off the ridges, leaving a smooth skin, and then rub with salt and set aside. Some of the bitterness flows out with the salty water. If this is too bitter still for your taste, blanch from a cold water start. It can be used in soups, stir fries, curries and may be steamed, as well as braised.
from the Indian Tips series
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- A Shopping list for a month (1972)
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- On Indian Chutneys
- On Indian Curd, Yoghurt and Buttermilk.
- On Lemons and Limes (Nimbu) in Indian Recipes
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- On Cooking Vegetables for Sambar
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- Red and Green, Fresh or Dried – On Chillies in Indian Food