Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Amala Sen’s Bitter Gourd Side with Mustard, Garlic and Tamarind

Every cook needs aunts and great aunts to pass down their recipes. And cooks who Blog have an extended family who are also happy to pass down their family recipes.

Amala Sen is Sumana Mashi’s Kakima (Aunt) whose signature bitter gourd side was the star of many meals.

IMG_2174 Its a simple bitter gourd-potato sauté but with some unusual ingredients for karela. Since Sumana Mashi took the pain to type out the recipe, and make my work simple, I will just go ahead and do something that I don’t usually do on PreeOccupied – use the Ctrl C-Ctrl V keys.

Amala Sen's (my aunt) Karela recipe: Since she never really provided any measures, here I go.

  • Two large or four medium karela, cut in crescents, washed and rubbed with salt and turmeric
  • You'll need also enough similarly sliced potatoes to make about 2/3 of the karela amountIMG_2180
  • In karahi/pan heat 3tbsps oil (I use olive, she did mustard) and pop 1 tsp or so 'panch phoron seeds' i.e. mustard, methi, kalonji, fennel. Jeera (in some kitchens, randhuni/celery seeds). IMG_2182
  • Add karela slices and fry for 5 minutes so all pieces seem lightly browned. Now add the potatoes, stir fry for another 5 minutes. IMG_2183
  • Sprinkle salt for the whole amount and a 1/2 tsp or so more of turmeric. IMG_2184
  • Cover and cook on medium heat as usual. Meanwhile in a small blender jar or coffee grinder crush fine 2 tbsp mustard seed. (if it's wet ground always add a pinch of salt and a small piece of green chili to stop the acridness) I always check dry ground stuff by taking and pinch of it and adding a few drop of water--is it smooth or rough at this stage?
  • Back to 'karela'--also crush in pestle 4 cloves of garlic and have some freshly ground black pepper handy.
    Check to see if karela is cooking in its own moisture--best not to add water which dilutes taste. If its too dry add a sprinkle of water. IMG_2188 IMG_2189
  • When karela and potatoes are cooked, make a well in the centre of karahi pushing veggies up the side, turn up the heat a few notches and when the well-bottom has no moisture add 2-3 tbsps of mustard oil.
  • Bring oil to smoking point, add the crushed garlic cloves and brown slightly before mixing it all.
  • Now add the mustard paste, ground black pepper and stir around.
  • For the final touch you need about 2tbsps of thick tamarind paste thinned out with a bit of warm water. IMG_2191
  • Mix this all in gently, taking care not to break karela pieces. The result should be on the dry side--a happy combo of bitter, tangy, garlicky, tartish tastes spiked by the pepper and mustard oil. You can eat this with rice or chapatis.IMG_2199 IMG_2201 All I did was follow Sumana Mashi’s instructions and out came a tangy, garlicky, delectably good Bitter Gourd side, which we had with Rice and Sambar.

Thank you, Sumana Mashi.

Other bitter gourd recipes from PreeOccupied are here.


Sulagna said...

Amio mustard diye kori..but garlic dii-ni kokhono...Khete khub bhalo hobe mone hochhe.Kore dekhbo :)

shooting star said...

you know gal, i bought panch phoron from a big departmental store on a whim to cook something bengali (amio bangali btw!!) a couple of days back...and when i got back home, i was clueless where to use it in!!!...
you have given me the inspiration!!!...am making this dish with my panch phoron!!!!!

Anonymous said...

This looks so yummy...especially the mustard usage.Its a pity that my husband dosent eat karela. I really like the karela bhaja tht bengalis make!

Satya said...

curry looks so tempting ..never combine bitter gourd with potato ,n love the mustered based gravy ...must try this ..yummy


Priya said...

Like most of us, i never combined bittergourd and potatoes together, thanks for sharing this beautiful dish..will try soon..

Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes

Satrupa said...

The husband will get demanding if he gets to see this bitter gourd recipe. He loves this bitter vegetable as much as he loves me ;-)

Lovely post !

Cheers n Happy Cooking,


aipi said...

I know bitter gourd is an acquired taste but I absolutely love it..my mom also makes it with potatoes..like your idea of adding mustard powder.. will go perfect with rice n daal!

US Masala

Kamini said...

Not a karela fan unless you fry the dickens out if it, but my dad will eat it in any form, he loves it, so must make for him next time he visits. Looks yummy tho.

paridhi said...

Hi Pree,

I got the link to you wonderful blog from a relative a few days before this Pujo and it got me really motivated to cook. I am a non-Bengali married to a Bong and moved to London recently. The craving for authentic, tasty food is huge and cooking myself seems to be the only option. I tried a couple of your recipes - Dhokar Dalna, Payesh, Khichudi, Aloo Dom and Luchi in the past 10 days and all of them turned out really nice. Thanks for the elaborate recipes with the pictures which make it look so easy!

Am planning on making the Cholar Dal with Mishti Pulao today for dinner.



PreeOccupied said...

@Sulagna, this is a new recipe for me too. And need I say we really liked it with plain rice.

@shooting star, try a simple potato-cauliflower sauté with panch phoron, that should taste good too.

@Paridhi, thank you for writing in, comments and feedback like yours make this Blog richer. I believe if its not easy to cook, then it should not be on my Blog, life needs to be simple in the kitchen, there are too many complications outside of it anyway. Enjoy your Chholar Dal and Mishti Pulao. Mangsho and Mishti Pulao has been my favorite since I was a kid.

paridhi said...

Pree, you are very right in saying that life is too complicated anyways so we should leave the kitchen alone! The Dal & Pulao came out nice.. My husband would have loved to have Mangsho but I am a vegetarian and hence Dal seemed like the next best option!

sumana said...

My Darling Pree:
In the process of blogging you have been disseminating so much--the comments are testaments. But this little bit that allowed me to space to remember my Kakima, I am so grateful to you. She's still around, not much in the kitchen anymore, but I'll tell her and gladden her old heart,

Subha Manoj said...

Hi Pree...

This is Subha. I love Karela...and have even made my husband love it! Sushmita introduced me to your Karela recipe. And today I tried, but with my own touch-ups. To say that I really liked it is the least. Thanks for the recipe :)


Mahesh said...

Nice recipe. Got introduced to Panch Phoran, which perhaps is unique to Bengal, Oriya culture. Will be cooking for the second time this weekend.

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