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. 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 !