Bitter Gourd Health Benefits and Easy Recipes using Bitter Melon
Bitter Melon - Health Benefits and Nutritional Value
The scientific name of Bitter Gourd or Bitter Melon is ‘Momordica Charantia’. It is a tropical vine and the fruits, leaves and extracts of this plant are used as medicine. It is also known as Balsam Pear. It is the most bitter of all vegetables. The Indian names of this vegetable are Karela, Pavakkai and Kakkarakai. Bitter Melon is very helpful in regulating the Blood Sugar Levels and as a Diabetic Cure. It is also used to treat hypertension, eye complications, neuritis and defective metabolism of carbohydrates. It is also said to increase the body's resistance against infection. Bitter gourd is proven effective in treating blood disorders like blood boils, itching, scabies, psoriasis, ring-worm and other fungal diseases. Bitter melon aids digestion and can be used by those with digestive disorders and constipation.
Bitter melon comes in a variety of shapes and sizes. It is widely grown in South and SouthEast Asia, Africa, China and the Caribbean. Bitter Melons are available fresh from April to September in most Asian markets. Bitter gourd has several essential vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin C, Iron, Calcium, Phosphorus, copper and potassium. Bitter guard is widely used in Ayurveda and considered and excellent remedy for Kapha problems. It helps purify blood tissue, enhances digestion and stimulates the liver. Due to their numerous medicinal properties bitter melon are also sold as juices and extracts in the market.
Though it has a bitter taste it is widely used in Cooking especially Indian. Young bitter gourds which do not have hard seeds are the best for cooking. If the seeds are not tender they are mostly removed before cooking. This Vegetable is normally not mixed with other vegetables because of its bitter taste. However the bitterness of this Vegetable can be reduced to some extent by putting the cut pieces in boiled water with salt for 5 minutes. Another way is by exposing the salted bitter melon pieces to sunlight for a few hours and then squeezes the pieces by hand to remove excess salt and bitterness. If necessary this pieces can be rinsed before using for cooking. Then it's rinsed with water a few times. I am not aware of the scientific reason behind this but have heard old people telling that Pregnant Woman, Nursing mothers and Nursing Mothers should not to eat bitter guards. Some studies on Bitter Melon have shown favorable results in treating Malaria, Cancer and HIV infection etc but the Research is still on.
Bitter Gourd Recipes
Bitter Gourd PickleMix 3 medium bitter guards cut thin round slices, Ginger Paste I tablespoon, 10-12 Garlic flakes finely chopped, 6 green chillies finely chopped, ½ Cup Lemon Juice/White Vineger and Salt and keep it in an airtight container. Shake the container 2-3 times a day for 3 days. On the 4th day remove from the container and drain the liquid in the mixture and spread the vegetable in a clean cloth and keep it in sunlight for 1-2 hours for removing the moisture. Once done add mixture is cool add 2 tsp. red chilli powder, 1/4 tsp. turmeric powder, 1/4 tsp. asafetida powder, 1/2 tsp paste of crushed fenugreek seeds and aniseeds. Mix well and add table spoon Jaggery. Heat Oil in a Kadai and add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, a pinch of asafetida and salt to taste. Once it is cool mix well with the mixture and keep it in an airtight container. The Pickle will be ready to use after 3 days.
Wash 10-12 small variety of Karela thoroughly and slit vertically on one side of the Karela and scoop out the seeds inside. Rub the insides of the Karela with salt. Set aside for about 20 minutes. There are several types of stuffing one can experiment with. To prepare a simple stuffing heat some Oil in a Kadai and add 1 medium Onion finely chopped and sauté for some time. Add 1 teaspoon chopped garlic, 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger, 2 Serrano peppers finely chopped, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and amchoor powder. If necessary add water. Wipe the prepared Karela thoroughly and stuff the spice mixture to the slit of the Karela and fry the Karela in a Pan in medium flame till it is cooked evenly. Once ready add chopped coriander leaves on Karela and serve hot.
Khatta Meetha (Sweet and Sour) KarelaWash 10-12 small bitter gourds thoroughly and make a slit on the side of Karela and remove the seeds. Apply salt on the insides and set aside. For making the stuffing mix around 4 tablespoons of tamarind pulp in a bowl, add salt, 2 teaspoon coriander powder, chilli powder and saunf powder. Fill the bitter gourd with this stuffing. Heat oil in a Kadai, add cumin seeds and allow crackling. Add a pinch of hing and cook the stuffed karela evenly on all sides. Cook on low heat. Once cooked add some water and around 4 tablespoons of crushed jaggery. Mix well. Cover and Cook on low flame for 15-20 minutes. Garnish with scarped coconut and coriander leaves. Serve hot with Rotis.