My mom will be shocked when she sees me cooking and eating bittergourd lovingly that too once in every 10 days types. This was one veggie which I would avoid touching during my childhood days. But then my disciplined mom would find her own ways [read as scoldings] and tactics [read as emotional manipulations] to feed me this veggie. I would take big bites and just swallow down the bittergourd dish in one go and then proceed on to finish my meal.
Now as time changed, priorities changed. After marriage found out hubby's love for this veggie. He liked it so much that anytime I send him to get some vegetables [except bittergourd], he would get them and say I won't force you to eat but you can cook for me :) ... I could not neglect his request and tried to be adventurous while cooking it as well as eating the dish. Over the time I learnt to mellow down its bitter taste by trying out innovative combinations and make the dish delectable. Slowly my sense of taste seemed to change and I started loving this veggie. Now being on other side of the table [a mom to two kids] and completely aware of its health benefits I try to cook it more often with innovative combinations and include in our diet. Hopefully this way their tastebuds aquire the taste and start loving it. If you are interested, you can check other bitter gourd recipes that I have posted here and here.
The below recipe is a side dish. Easy to prepare and with less ingredients, this dish goes well with rice and dal.
2 cups of finely chopped bittergourd
2 medium sized tomatoes, finely chopped [optional, I added to increase the volume of this side dish, you may add finely chopped onions]
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal [optional]
few curry leaves
1 red chilli
1 tsp red chilli powder [I use 1/2 tsp, keeping kids in mind]
1/2 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp tamarind paste
Jaggery as per the taste
Salt as per the taste
1 tbsp coconut oil
Wash and clean bittergourd. Remove the pith as well as seeds and chop the veggie finely. Sprinkle some salt and mix well. Allow them to rest for 30 mins. After the resting time, squeeze out the juice and keep them aside. Wash tomatoes. Finely chop them and discard the seeds.
Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and when it crackles add urad dal, curry leaves and red chilli. Stir fry till the urad dal turns light brown in color. Next add chopped bittergourd pieces. Saute it on medium flame for 2-3 mins. Now add tamarind paste, finely chopped tomatoes. Stir it nicely and allow it to cook on low flame. Once bittergourds are half cooked, add red chilli powder, cumin powder, jaggery and salt as per taste. Mix it well and cover the pan. You may sprinkle some water if the the veggie soaked in jaggery syrup gets stuck to the base of pan. Cook it on low flame until done. Switch of the flame and enjoy it hot with rice and dal.