To be frank, I hate this vegetable. But my hubby loves it. So I had no other go than learning how to cook it. In my mom's place they do a different recipe in which the bitterness is so subtle. But my MIL does not do anything to remove the bitterness and my hubby likes this veggie that way. Poor me, I always have to make another veggie for me on the days I cook this (extra work). This time when I went to India I saw small bittergourds . They are called "merry pavakkai". Here is a pic of the same and also the pic of my MIL's preparation. She uses tomato in hers.
Now that you have seen one version, here is mine. This is less bitter and it can be enjoyed with sambar rice. It gets a nice roasted texture and taste as it is cooked on low flame towards the end. Adding a hint of jaggery also helps in masking the bitterness. (ooh..that's a lot of bitterness in this post). Now to the recipe.
bittergourd/pavakkai- 2 medium sized
onion- 1/2 (sliced)
sambar powder- 2 tsp
salt- as reqd
jaggery- 1/4 tsp
tamarind paste- 1/4 tsp
Cut the pavakkai's into medium-thin rounds. You can keep the seeds if you like it. If not , just push the center part with your thumb and it comes right off. In a bowl add 1 tbsp of yogurt,some water and salt.
Mix well and get it to buttermilk consistency. If you have ready buttermilk that is perfectly fine too. Add the pavakkai rounds to it and soak it for 15 mins. Then wash it 2 or 3 times. This helps in removing the bitterness to a little extent.
Now heat the pan and put a tbsp of oil. Fry mustard seeds, urad dal, channa dal and some cumin. Then add onions, curry leaves and some turmeric. Fry it for 5 mins. Then add pavakkai and reqd salt. Saute for a few mins. Now add little water and close the pan.
Cook for another 5 to 10 mins. When the color of the veggie changes, add the sambar powder, tamarind and jaggery. Mix well. Take off the lid and fry in medium low flame. The key to this roast is , don't use a spatula and keep on mixing it. This might break the veggie. So, you just toss the veggie every 5 mins. You will get a nice roasted texture this way. Enjoy!!!