Friday, September 4, 2009

Home grown - Bitter Gourd

A small vegetable plot is coming along in my garden. It has got my nephew all excited when he saw the odd cucumber and bitter gourd growing to maturity.

'You should get rid of your plants and grow veggies. There's so much space to have your own home grown'. ' Hang on there!' I said. It sent a shockwave down my spine. 'This small plot will do.I can't imagine my garden turned into a farm,' I protested.

Along my backyard fence, there's twisting and twirling and curling of the climbers - cucumber and bitter gourd. Such beauty in the way the tendrils twine. The fence never looked so pretty in all these years.! Thank goodness, I was advised not to be stingy feeding my plants. Admittedly, they were a bit skinny to start off and it worked wonders with extra helpings of nutrients. To think they were screaming ' feed me! feed me!' and I was such a 'kedekut'!

Bitter gourd, the wrinkly looking melon ,is ridged and tapered. I know it as 'pava aki', in Tamil, as I've heard my mother-in-law say it. Recently, with the fuits of labour, there's more than the usual pava aki to eat. It hadn't been a family favourite for its bitter taste. But at times, we've got to surprise ourselves by trying something new. Guess what? we've enjoyed the new dishes. Here goes one, Indian-style, to share with everyone:

Bitter Gourd : 800g, halved lengthways, pith removed and thinly sliced across
Salt 1 1/2 tsp
Tumeric powder 1 1/2 tsp
Cooking oil for deep frying
Skinned split black lentils (urad dhall) 1 tsp
Black mustard seeds 1 tsp
Onion 1, large, peeled and finely chopped
Curry leaves 2 sprigs, stems discarded
Coriander powder 1 tsp

Rub bitter gourd with salt and tumeric all over and set aside for 20 minutes.

Deep fry bitter gourd in hot oil until golden brown and crispy. Drain on absorbent paper towels.

Leave 1 1/2 tbsp oil in the pan and stir fry lentils until golden brown. Add mustard seed and stir -fry until they stop spluttering.

Add onion and curry leaves then saute` until onion turns golden brown.

Stir in chilli and coriander powders and remove from heat immediately. Add fried bitter gourd and stir to mix well. Serve hot with rice and other dishes.

Now for another bitter gourd dish,Chinese style to whip up. My friend, Kim celebrated her 60th birthday in great style.There was a lovely dinner party with a free flow of champagne at the Ritz Carlton. Guests were dressed in florals (no black, upon request). A group of friends sang songs for her, so did her dear husband who did a solo. These songs were given in a specially recorded cd. Also, a book of her loved recipes gorgeously bound with much love, was given to each guest. Thanks, Kim for the unforgettable evening and this recipe :

Stuffed Bitter Gourd


1 bitter gourd
6oz minced pork or chicken
2 oz shelled shrimp and minced
1 red chilli (sliced)
1 tbsp fermented black beans

(A) 1 tsp chopped garlic
1/2 tsp slt
1 tsp sesame oil
1/3 tsp cornstach

(B) 21/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2cup water


1. Remove ends and stem from bitter gourd. Cut into slices 1/3 inch and remve seeds. Place in boling water with salt and cook for 2 minutes. Remove and place in cold water to cool and then drain.
2. Add (A) to minced pork/chicken and minced prawns.
3. Lightly dry bitter gourd then stuff with pork/chicken filling.
4. Heat pan and 1/2 cup oil until medim hot. Fry stuffed bitter gourd on both sides until meat is golden brown and remove.
5. Reheat wok and add 2 tbsp oil. Stir-fry fermented black beans and chilli. Add in bitter gourd and add (B) to simmer. Cook for 3 minutes over medium heat. Remove to serving plate.

Enjoy and let the bitter gourd surprise you !


  1. Congratulations, for having bitter gourd growing so well... kakdah may want to try your recipe... haha. Ours has long gone. Will try growing gourd and cucumber soon!! ~ bangchik

  2. your bitter gourd look healthy and fresh, earlier I try to plant too, but it grow half way already die..

  3. It's great that you have your own small vegi garden. I would love to have one..

  4. Excellent !!!! feels a nature lover !!

  5. as per my last visit to cameron highland , bitter gourd had been turn to a "halwa" or "asam" and it tastes very sweet an a bit sour.I was so suprised that bitter gourd could taste so good as a "halwa"

  6. Woweee! Well done on your veggie plot, Keats! Looks like it's now Hari Organik every day for you. Thank you for the pavaka recipe. It is one of my favourite dishes and snacks. With pulungarasi and rasam, pavaka is simply divine!

  7. Your bitter gourd looks very organic. Good! I bet this bitter gourd will taste sweet no matter what because it is the fruit of you labour. I guess the most rewarding part of gardening plants is when you get to eat what you have grown.

  8. hi
    Bangcik and Kakdah, yeah, the bitter gourds are tasting good. do try the recipe.

    sonia, it's quite easy. have good earth, sunlight and feed them well :)

    Turquoise diaries, yes, it's nice to actually grow something we eat :) Like eveything, it needs nurturing too.

    SUGEETH, when someone says you have green fingers, it's really applying the green knowledge ! Only then will things grow.

    xplorer, did you buy lots of veggies from cameron h'lands? the farmers might have grown a different variety to give it a sweet taste!

    ~Covert_Operations'78~, we should go to an Indian place to enjoy more indian dishes. You seem to be familiar with them. Shall make an appt. with a busy bee like you!

    Gran, you bet! bitter gourd is also cooked as a soup with some pork as a Chinese dish. I like it too.

  9. Thats a big cumcumber hahahaha...
    I had this year peppers, zucchini, tomatoes and strawberries in my garden yummiee..... :)
    I eat always to many strawberries ;)

    The food you make looks great and yummie... !!!!!

    Have a nice weekend :)

  10. I think the word "zucchini" is not good :(
    my translator was helping me ..... LOL
    I think its a marrow or courgette :)
    We say in Dutch courgette !!!

  11. Thanks for stopping by my blog today and leaving kind words about my weight loss! I'll be back to read more!!!!

  12. The recipes sound good! I must try them out even though I'm not a big fan of the bitter gourd.

  13. Hi
    Anya, good to hear you have home grown veg and fruits under your tender care :) Strawberries would be nice to grow. Alas, it's too hot here.

    Julie, it says a lot of your determination to get to a nice size like that. So, keep it up :)

    Veronica Lee, you never know you might be won over by one of the recipes. Try, lah!!

  14. Wow, bitter gourd is one of my favorite vegies and great that you have them at reach at your yard. Have a nice day to you keats and thanks for your message on my last post...

  15. Hi Keats :P

    I LOVE bitter guard, my MIL is very good in making Kerabu with bitter guard, she would soak them in salt for a few hours and when we eat them, its all crunchy and not bitter! You must have a huge compound...something I would love to have, more land for everything. I have been crazy over herbs nowadays..all sort of herbs, love them all :P Hope you are having a good break this holiday. Hugs.....M

  16. Hi
    Autumn Belle, imagine the delight of seeing them grow and having them on the plate later :)

    Pacey, hope you're doing fine. am still learning how to grow veggies - their needs etc. and keeping insects at bay.

    M. Kate,good to see you up and running again! hey! here's somebody who loves bitter gourd besides PACEY!
    My compound is just under 10,000sq feet. I still can't find enough space to grow things!
    Herbs are very handy esp. those we can make use of in our culinary needs.

  17. All I can say is yummy!
    I have to try both recipes!
    BTW, how do you "organically" keeps those white flying bugs away from the vege?

  18. Your bitter gourds look very inviting! How wonderful to have them in your own garden. Thanks for sharing these recipes. They look very yummy! I love bitter gourds. Have a great week, my dear :)

  19. Hi
    lupie, i'm also having battles with the white flying bugs! I bought some enzyme from the fair at organic week and am spraying on the leaves. Do wrap the the 'babies' with paper when they are a few centimetres long to protect them.

    I wonder if any of the readers can give us a good tip??

    ROSIDAH, yay! I'm discovering bitter gourd lovers!! How do you cook it?
    Hope you're keeping well:)

  20. What an interesting plant. I've never seen it around here.

  21. Sorry for slow retarded comment think this is almost the last or perhaps the last post. The saying goes need green hands to grow nice veg and also at the least a fence for the creepers. You've got them and the sunshine too to reap great veg. Those like me staying in between space and ground level sorry lah would have a bigger challenge.(I mean apartment, condo, flat). Thanks

  22. Ah, Bitter Gourd, I wonder if I can grow that here in Coastal California, it probably wants warmer weather. We grow a lot of our own food. There is a movement here called "Food Not Lawns".

  23. Hi
    adrienne, the bitter gourd is indigenous to Asia, Africa, Australia and S. America. It is now cultivated throughout the tropics.

    CheahS@n,you can have a balcony garden. So try with plants that you like and easy to maintain to kick off:)

    d.moll,, yeah, it likes a hot climate. Good to know you grow your own food. I suppose when times are harder , people will try to be more self-sufficient. I have a few fruit trees in my garden but they are not doing well.

  24. Hi, I also feel excited when I saw you the planted the bitter gourd in your garden.:D

  25. The gourd grows so well. Wish I have a garden too.

  26. Btw, no worries abt the mistakenly posted comment. FYI, you can actually go back to the comment & delete it. Just click on the bin icon & it'll do the job, altho' a note abt the comment been deleted by the author will appear.

  27. Hi
    AnnCoo, thanks for following my blog. I have extra gourds to give away too.

    petite nyonya, you can have a balcony garden or just have a few pots of plants. They bring lots of cheer:)

    thanks, I'm just so UNSAVVY with all these gadgets!

  28. Nothing like Bitter Gourd, to cure a lot of ailments.


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