15 April, 2017
Bharwan Karele (Stuffed Bitter Gourd)
Karela aka Bitter Gourd is another of the Vegetables which I started eating after we moved into our own house. Here in our house we have a kitchen garden where we grow vegetables. I am still skeptical to this particular breed of vegetables, eating only bhujia (Recipe is for some other time) and bharwa karele. Its not everyday that we make stuffed bitter gourd, but since my tambram husband is fond of karele, I decided to treat him to the bihari version of stuffed karele.
You will Need: 3 medium sized thick bitter Gourd(Karela), 2 large onion, 3 tbspoon yellow mustard seeds, 1-2 dry red chilli, 2 tspn turmeric powder, 1 tbspn coriander powder, 2 tspn panchforan*, a slice of lemon (or khatai*) 3-4 tbspn of besan( chickpea floor), garlic paste (optional), Mustard oil- 5-6 tbspn, and Salt to taste.
Wash the bitter-gourds. Chop off the bitter gourds at each end. Now cut each karela in pieces of 3″ each (Refer to the pic). Add a pinch of salt in sauce pan full of water. Also add the karela pieces. Now bring it to a boil (15-20 minutes should be enough). Karela should be cooked but not very soft.
Paste of spices: Chop one onion. Make a fine paste of red chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, onion and mustard seeds. Keep it aside. Also make a paste of khatai with little water. Keep it aside.
Now, strain the water from boiled karela. Let it cool. Remove the pulp from each karela pieces. You can either mash it now or later in pan while bhunaoing ( bhunana is a hindi word for cooking on a slow to medium flame without water).
Heat a kadai/Pan. Add 1-1.5 tbspn of oil. Once heated, add panchforan. While it splutters, add the other chopped onion (chop it lengthwise in fine thin slices)Add a pinch of salt. It will help onions to cook properly without getting is crispier. Add paste of spices to this. Cook this paste for next 10-12 minutes without adding water and without covering it , keep stirring it.(Bhunana is the process name). Don’t leave this unattended. this will give a wonderful aroma once properly cooked. Add salt. Now Add the karela pulp. If you have not mashed the pulp earlier, you can try mashing it up while cooking it with spices in pan itself. again this should be cooked using “bhunana” process for another 8-10 minutes. Once its cooked properly, this will emit a wonderful aroma. Add khatai paste. Mix properly. That’s your cue ; your stuffing material is ready. Let it cool.
Now stuff these in each karela pieces. Keep them aside. Make a thick batter of besan using chickpea floor and water. Add salt. Add 1 tspn of turmeric powder, 2 tspn of chilli powder, 2 tspn of coriander powder, 1/2 tbspn of garlic paste to it.
Heat the oil in a deep pan or thick bottomed kadai. Dip the stuffed karela pieces in the batter and deep fry each pieces on medium flame. Your bharwa karele is ready to be served.
Tip of The Day: Adding garlic paste to the batter is optional; though it does add flavour. Do not use more coriander powder in the spice paste. It ruins the taste. Do not add water in the stuff mix. You may keep this ready and deep freeze it; to be deep fried later. If you do not have khatai, you can use half a slice of lemon juice.
*PanchForan is a mix of ajwain(Carom seeds), Mangraila (Kalonji), Jeera, Yellow mustard seeds and Methi seeds (Fenugreek Seeds).
*Khatai is dried version of mango strips. Mango strips are cut and washed and sun-dried to be used later through-out the year in North India.