I LOVE bitter gourd. Right from the time I was a kid. Mom used to make a gojju/tangy gravy out of it and I’d lick my fingers clean. Everyone would be surprised that a kid can love bitter gourd! Later in school days, I’d share it with my friends and not tell them that it is bitter gourd, and they too would fall in love with it. And when I told them, they’d not believe that bitter gourd can be bitter-less!
Now, my MIL makes this palya out of it, and it is equally tasty. Little niece Hima, no follows my suit and loves it like anything. Her meal would get over in a fraction of usual time, if the menu includes bittergourd palya! And even after a meal, she’ll come with a spoon and take the curry in it to lick it clean!
The secret to remove the bitterness in the bittergourd is to fry it on low flame for quite a bit of time. Alternately, you can soak it in some water mixed with turmeric and salt for some time and then squeeze it, but I’d prefer the former. It does take some time to cook, but the end result is awesome. And it stays for at least a week if refrigerated, so it is well worth the effort.
Here’s the recipe...
Bitterless Bitter-gourd Curry / Hagalakai Palya
Preparation time : 10 min
Cooking time : 45 min
Bitter gourd / Hagalakai - 5-6 medium sized
Onion - 3-4 medium sized
Cooking oil - 2 Tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Turmeric - ¼ tsp
Curry leaves - 2-3 sprigs
Tamarind paste - 1 Tbsp, thick
Salt - 1½ tsp or as per taste
Jaggery - one medium lime sized ball
Rasam / Sambhar powder - 3 tsp
• Chop bitter gourd into thin pieces and slice onions into thin slices, vertically
• In a heavy bottomed pan, heat oil and add mustard seeds and allow to splutter
• Add curry leaves, and when they turn crispy, add turmeric
• Add the chopped bitter gourd and sauté it for a couple of minutes
• Put it on low flame and cover and cook for about 25 - 30 minutes, till cooked. Take care not to burn, but sautéing frequently.
• When almost done, add onions and continue cooking for 5 more minutes till the raw smell of onions goes
• Add tamarind paste, salt and crushed jaggery and sauté till the jaggery and salt are dissolved and tamarind water is evaporated
• Add sambhar / rasam powder and mix well and sauté for a few more minutes for the flavors and taste to blend well
• Serve with chapathis / dosas / rice
• When cool, store in a container in fridge
• Use a heavy bottomed pan for this, as otherwise the bottom gets charred soon
• Usage of onions is optional - either ways taste different
• Rasam powder or sambhar powder or a mix of both can be used. Each lends a slightly different flavor and tastes equally good