Umesh is a freelance writer who enjoys sharing recipes with his online readers.
What Is Bitter Gourd?
Bitter gourd, also known as bitter melon, is a common vegetable found across the globe. In my country, India, it is commonly known as karela.
It is used for making a variety of vegetable dishes—dry as well as curry forms. The only issue with bitter gourd is that it has a slightly bitter taste, which is why many people dislike it despite knowing about its many health benefits.
How to Reduce the Bitterness of Bitter Gourd
One way to reduce the bitterness of this vegetable is to cook it with other vegetables, like carrots, onions, potatoes or sweet potatoes. For this recipe, I have have chosen sweet potato and onions to reduce bitterness.
Bitter Gourd Nutrition
Bitter gourd is a great source of fibre, vitamins, minerals, and several key nutrients.
One cup (about 94 grams) of raw bitter gourd provides 2 grams of fibre, 4 grams of carbohydrate, about 1 gram of protein and only 20 calories. The percentage of vitamins/minerals provided by one cup of raw bitter gourd in reference to the RDI (Reference Daily Intake) value is: Vitamin C - 93%; Vitamin A - 44%; Folate - 17%; Potassium - 8%; Zinc - 5%; and Iron - 4%.
Yield: 3 to 4 servings
Cook time: 30 minutes
- 2 to 3 medium bitter gourds
- 2 to 3 medium sweet potatoes
- 2 onions
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder (optional)
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp anise seeds (fennel/saunf)
- 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (optional)
- 1 whole red chilli (optional)
- 1 tsp mango powder (amchur)
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp sugar (optional)
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- Wash the bitter gourds and sweet potatoes thoroughly and drain. Slightly peel the bitter gourds and peel the sweet potatoes. Cut them into small flat pieces. Peel the onions and chop them. Cut the whole chilli (optional) into 3 to 4 pieces and set aside.
- In a microwave-safe bowl (preferably a thick glass one), add chopped onion, cumin seeds, turmeric powder (optional), coriander powder, anise seeds, chilli powder (optional), whole chilli pieces (optional), cooking oil, and salt. Mix well.
- Sprinkle 1 to 2 tsp water on it and place the bowl in the microwave. Put the microwave in the 1st or 2nd heat range (I use the 2nd range) and turn it on. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes only.
- Take the bowl out and add chopped bitter gourd and sweet potatoes. Add mango powder and sugar (optional) to it. Mix well. Add 3/4 cup water.
- Return the bowl to the microwave and cook for 9 to 11 minutes. During the last 3 minutes of the cooking, it is advisable to pause the microwave and check for the consistency of the dry vegetables. If it appears too dry, add a little more water and cook for another minute.
- Carefully remove the hot bowl with a thick dishcloth or oven mitts. Serve and enjoy.
Cooking Notes and Variations
- In place of sweet potato, you can use carrots, potatoes, green banana etc.
- Red chilli powder and whole red chilli are mentioned in ingredients as optional items. People who do not like chillies can simply omit these ingredients.
- To make the dish a bit sweeter and tangier, try adding a little tomato sauce.
- Use this dry vegetable as a filling for quick sandwiches.
- Microwaves can cook food without cooking oil.
The dish prepared using these quantities of ingredients would be sufficient for 5 to 6 servings. One serving of this dish should contain between 30 to 35 calories.
If sugar is not added and cooking oil is also not used then each serving would be only about 20 to 25 calories.
Microwave Cooking Basics
This dish can be made in a conventional way in a cooking pan by straight cooking it on a gas burner or hot plate but we have made this dish in this recipe in a microwave oven. So before going ahead it would be useful to go through some of the fundamentals of microwave cooking.
Many people use microwave ovens only for heating purposes and not for making dishes. But, once we are aware of some of the basics about its functioning and working then we can use it in a better way for making a dish perfectly.
Let us understand the basics of microwaves and their functioning. Generally, a microwave has five ranges of heat and all cooking is done using those ranges separately or in combination (in sequence). These ranges are very high, high, medium, low, and very low. Very high and high are generally used for main cooking purposes while the low is used for simmering of food and very low is used for keeping the dish warm as we do in a hot case.
In microwave cooking, the main precaution which we have to take is that we have to always take care in adding the quantity of water in the dish. A single mistake in this regard can spoil the dish as there is always a danger of getting charred and burning of the dish if sufficient water is not added beforehand.
The water quantity becomes more important especially in the case of the dry vegetables as we do not want that the final dish should contain more water than required. So, from that perspective, it is easy to make curries in the microwave because there we add more water beforehand and the question of charring or burning does not arise.
One thing which is interesting in microwave cooking is that the microwave doesn't require cooking oil for cooking the food. It can cook the food just by the presence of water in it. So health-conscious people can avoid putting cooking oil in their microwave dishes.
Many people are not comfortable with microwave cooking and feel a lot of hassles in it. They can go for the normal way of cooking in a pan on a hot plate or gas burner using their own basic culinary skills. The cooking time may increase slightly in traditional cooking as compared to microwaves.
© 2021 Umesh Chandra Bhatt