They do not call it bitter gourd without a reason. Even though it is rich in dietary fiber, magnesium, zinc, iron and phosphorus and helps boost weight loss, controls diabetes and enhances immunity, the bitter taste is a total downer. You get different variants of karela in the market and all the variants differ in the amount of bitterness but generally, most people have an aversion to this veggie simply because of its pungent taste. Kids particularly find it difficult to get their palate accustomed to this ingredient.
No matter how bitter it may be, one can't deny its nutritional value and if you're a parent you'd want your kid to get the best of this veggie. If you're trying to sneak karela into your kid's diet with no luck, these chef-approved hacks will come to the rescue. Mumbai-based chefs tell us innovative ways to include bitter gourd in a meal so that your kid doesn't say no to it.
Purchase Stage TipsThe first thing you can do to ensure that the bitter gourd is not too pungent to taste is to avoid buying the ripe ones. Chef Kishor Borhade at Renaissance, Powai says that the younger the bitter gourd is, the less bitter it is. Also, de-seeding and scraping the skin off can make for a pleasant dish once prepared.
Pre-meal PrepAnother hack recommended by Borhade is to soak the bitter gourd in buttermilk or diluted yoghurt for some time. This tenders the bitterness of the vegetable. You can also slice them and apply salt to drain the excess water, this minimises its bitterness. You can then proceed to use them in any meal that you wish to prepare. Soaking slices of karela in tamarind juice also works wonders however this tends to make the slices a little soggy. Another way is to boil equal parts of sugar and vinegar and soak the sliced karela for a while before cooking to reduce the sharpness of taste.
Hide the Bitterness with Other IngredientsChef Amit Vaidya of Grandmama's Cafe suggests finely chopping the karela and mixing it with a few other ingredients that are your kid's favourites to make a tasty vegetable paratha. This will dilute the bitter taste without taking away the vegetable's nutritional benefits. Meanwhile, head chef Mukesh Kumar of Hotel Samrat says adding something like paneer or khoya instead of a spiced mixture will work better as a stuffing for paratha if you are making them for your kids. The delicate milky flavour of paneer or khoya will counter the excessive bitterness of karela.
Here is a Bharwan Karela recipe to get you started:
Conceptualised by: Sohail Joshi
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