Bitter melon — also known as bitter gourd — is a type of fruit related to zucchini, squash, pumpkin, and cucumber. It has renowned anti diabetic properties that makes it a popular dish amongst indigenous people in Asia.
The Chinese variety is typically long, pale green, and covered with wart-like bumps.
On the other hand, the Indian variety is narrower and has pointed ends with rough, jagged spikes on the rind.
Other than helping to lower blood sugar to aid diabetes, it also helps to promote weight-loss, rich in antioxidants to fight cancer and lowers cholesterol levels in the body.
Sounds very promising right? The only difficulty people have with eating this fruit is the taste. True to its name, for many people the bitter taste is a little too strong. Here’s one of the many ways to cook it into a delicious healthy meal.
Bitter Gourd Theeyal with Chicken
Time: 45 mins, Serves: 4
Chicken breast – 500g cut into cubes
Bitter gourd, chopped – 1 big
Oil – 2 teaspoons
Tamarind (asam jawa) – 1 or 2 bulbs
To roast and grind:
Coconut (kelapa parut) – 1 cup
Small red onion, finely chopped – 5
Cumin seeds (jintan) – 1/4 teaspoon
Turmeric powder (kunyit) – 1/4 teaspoon
Chilli powder – 1½ teaspoons
Coriander Powder (ketumbar) – 1½ teaspoons
Oil – 2 teaspoons
Mustard seeds (biji sawi) – 1/4 teaspoons
Dried red Chilli, broken – 2
Curry leaves – 1 strand
- In a pan, roast the coconut, onion and cumin until you get a dark golden colour. Add little oil if needed.
- Once it browns add the turmeric, chilli powder and coriander powder and mix well with coconut and allow to leave the raw masala smell for about fifteen seconds and turn off the gas and allow to cool.
- Grind this coconut mixture inside a blender. First add ground coconut then water and grind as a paste.
- Heat oil in a pan and add the bitter gourd and boneless chicken cubes sauté in oil. After a minute, sprinkle some salt and cook till the cut edges of the bitter gourd brown lightly.
- Soak tamarind in water, extract the juice and add to the sautéed pan. Allow to cook for a minute or two till the raw taste of tamarind leaves.
- Now add the ground coconut paste to the pan and mix well. Add half to one cup of water to dilute the curry.
- Heat oil in another pan and mustard seeds once it starts to splutter add the broken dried red chilli and curry leaves and fry for fifteen seconds and pour it over the curry.
- Bring it to boil once the curry starts to bubble, switch off gas.