I was introduced to karela/bitter melon subji by none other than my BFF Darshana when were in junior college. Till then, I was allowed to not eat this particular subji at my home. We were really proud of my Aai/Mom, she was not a very strict mom when it came to eating some vegetables. She herself did not like this Karela/Bitter groud so they rarely made a appearance at my home. When they did, we could tell that my Dad had been to the market and got these home. He loved this subji, but he could not fight the votes alone, 3 against 1 was a lost battle....
Times change, tastes change and so did mine. My friend carried a lunch box almost all days as we had back to back classes and then college. I stayed closer to where our classes were so we used to spend the in between time at my sweet home and have lunch together. Saturdays were special as my aai was home and she cooked hot lunch for us. One such weekday, Dashy as we called her, got this and could not wait for the lunch time, she kept stealing the subji as if stealing some chips. when we got home, half of the stuff was over. She offered me the rest but one look at my face and she could tell that I was missing something precious in life. I argued that anything that looked so bad, had Bitter in it's name could not have been possibly any good.
Image taken from iFoodtv.
She was the one who made me look beyond the appearances and value the contents.. A lesson in life was taught to me there and I reluctantly tasted her subji..
Now the vote at my home is equal, as I love this Subji and make it the same way my Dashy makes and also when I miss her....
You will need;
3 Count Bitter Melons/Karela
1 small onion diced really small
1 tspn oil for tempering
1tsp Rai seeds /Mustard
1tspn Red Chili Powder
2 tspn Cumin+Coriander Powder
1/2 tsp Jaggery
1and 1/2 tsp Salt plus more if needed..(slightly more as you will see.)
Wash and pat dry the karelas, And cut them lengthwise into half, deseed them and cut into chips, semi circles and rub some salt on them, keep aside for about 10-15 mins. They will sweat a bit, remove the excess salty liquid and spread them on a paper towel to dry for a while.
In a wok, heat the oil, add the rai/mustard seeds and jeera and let that crackle, then add the onions and let that sweat a bit, my mom always said to add the onions first then the haldi, as the haldi will not burn then and turn black, now add the karela that has been drying on the paper towel, and cover the wok and cook for about 7-10 mins stirring occasionally. I use a non stick pan, so need less oil, but if u feel that the vegetable is sticking to the pot, use slightly more oil. Once the vegetable is cooked, add the red chili powder, cumin and coriander powder and jaggery, stir well, if you feel it needs salt, only then add little as per taste. Let that fry in the pan after it is cooked, a little crisp will only make it taste better. Enjoii this healthy subji with some hot phuklas or simple varan, tup, mith, limbu, and bhat.. (Dal Chawal with Lime and ghee)
** Notes from Ash;
I am not a huge fan of coconut, so I don't add it, but you can certainly add little fresh coconut or even roasted peanut powder at the final stages, when you add the spices, to the stir fry.