Bitter Melon: Ampalaya (Momordica Charantia)
Bitter melon which had originated from the Indian subcontinent is a tropical vine, widely grown in Asia for its fruits.
Known as ampalaya in the Philippines, bitter melon is one of those vegetables that's always present and will always be in our vegetable garden. Ampalaya, or bittermelon is not hard to take care of and although I'm not a fan of the bitterness, it is my first aid when my asthma is up for an attack. Widely cultivated for both the leaves and the fruits, ampalaya is an all year round vegetable. Although both the cultivated and wild bitter gourds are both edible, some says the wild bitter gourds, ovoid, jagged and has pointed ends are a bit bitter than the cultivated form which is oblong, ribbed and wrinkled textured and pale green in color.
Did you know?
* Bitter melon bears separate female and male flowers.
* Bitter gourd seeds when still developing is soft, not intensely bitter, and can be cook with the fruit.
* Bitter melon can hold into anything for support. (A photo below with a tendril reaching for soil particles.)
Cooking with bitter melon:
* Bitter melon fruits are stir-fried with your choice of meat. I prefer it stir-fried with beef tenderloin or chicken.
* One of mom's preferred cooking of bitter melon fruit, or ampalaya is cooking it with cellophane noodles with or withour mung beans.
* The leaves are cooked in the soup-based dish tinola in the Philippines.
* The popular Ilocano dish pinakbet also consist of bitter melon along with other vegetables such as squash, long beans, jute leaves, okra, and eggplant.
* Aside from being stir fried, it is cooked either steamed or cooked in coconut milk in Indonesia.
* Bitter gourd is made into achar in Nepal, which is pickled bitter gourd.
* The whole fruit is boiled in Pakistan, and stuffed with ground meat and served with either naan (an oven-baked flatbread,) or with an unleavened flatbread called chapati, or served with tandoori bread.
Have you eaten bitter melon?
Bitter melon is a good source of phosphorus, iron, and B vitamin, calcium and beta carotene. It is also used as a folkloric medicine. It lowers blood sugar and detoxifies the body. And although I'm not fond of the bitterness, when I feel like an asthma is on its way, ampalaya, or bitter gourd is one of my remedies.
* The juice from the leaves is used to treat cough, cold, and is what I also use to help treat an oncoming asthma attack. But careful with taking too much juice as it can irritate the digestive tract.
* The juice is also use for purgative purposes to expel parasites out of the intestines.
* And for urethral discharge, the decoction from the ampalaya roots is used.
* For mouth infections or for toothaches, the warm tea infusions is used.
* For burns, leaves is pounded and applied to the skin.
* Bitter melon tea is used to promote lochia.
Other names for bitter melon:
* Ampalaya in the Philippines and also known as parya in the Ilocano dialect.
* Bitter gourd is known as yeoju in Korea.
* Kaakarkaya in Telugu.
* It is known as mara in Thai.
* Muop dang in Vietnamese.
* Balsambirne in German.
* Known as pepino amargo in Spanish.
* Paria in Indonesian.
Why is bitter melon, bitter gourd, or ampalaya bitter?
* Bitter melon tastes bitter because of the compound momordicin that is present in the bitter melon plant.
To lessen the bitterness, soaking the fruit in salty water will do the trick. But as my mother says, why eat bitter melon if you will just rid of the bitterness, the more bitter it is, the better for the health.
You might also want to read...
- The Legend Of The Bitter Melon
Of all vegetables, have you happen to know any other vegetable as bitter as bitter melon? This vegetable got the bitter taste as a punishment for a big mistake it had done a long time ago.
- Vegetables In The Philippines
Ever wondered what vegetables and plants are growing in the Philippines? Some of these vegetables you probably also have in your yard, but here's a list of Filipino vegetables.