Bitter melon or bitter gourd (karela in Hindi) is a bitter, dark green vegetable with prickly points all over it. It cleanses the liver and is known to be beneficial for those with hyperglycemia and Type 2 Diabetes.
According to esteemed Ayurvedic practitioner Vasant Lad, ‘Bitter is better for the liver.’
In India, bitter melon is traditionally served as a side dish with Indian flat tortillas known as rotis or chappatis. Here is a traditional stir-fry recipe and a fun variation for bitter melon tacos.
Shopping for Bitter Melon
A few notes about bitter melon. You’ll find this vegetable in asian grocery stores and some super markets. When selecting bitter melon choose ones that look tender. If you find it has really pink seeds inside that means it’s over-ripe. Scoop out the seeds and toss them in the trash. Brown seeds are okay.
Now enjoy the video demonstration and let us know how your tacos turn out!
Wash and slice the bitter melon. Toss the slices in salt to absorb excess bitter taste. Water will release from the bitter melon. You can keep this water if you'd like a more tender bitter melon, or discard it if you'd like it less bitter.
Heat the vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat.
Add a pinch of asafoetida powder to the oil. Add whole cumin seeds, minced garlic and ginger and stir fry for approximately 15 seconds.
Next add the bitter melon and saute for 5 minutes. Add the tamarind concentrate, jaggery or brown sugar, and remaining spices.
Let cook, covered, for another 5 minutes. Top it off with fresh or dried grated coconut.
To make the tacos, dry roast the corn tortillas by warming them over the stove for a few minutes on each side.
Lightly coat the tortillas with a little ghee or butter. Add the bitter melon stir fry and salsa, and enjoy!
Sapna Punjabi-Gupta is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, an Ayurvedic Practitioner and founder of Naivedhya. She conducts interactive cooking workshops, wellness lectures, and has a retail line of heirloom spices blends and products. Her YouTube Channel, @Be.Spiced provides informative cooking tutorials, easy and healthy recipes, food and spice adventures and practical lifestyle tips by integrating western nutritional science and ancient wisdom of Ayurveda for modern living.