Sunday, 1 December 2013

Zapeeta Karela : Bharwan or Stuffed Bitter Gourd

Karela is one vegetable which not many people are fond of, just because it is bitter and doesn't have a pleasant taste of its own. But Karela has immense nutritional benefits. Karela is also known as Bitter gourd or Bitter melon. It surely prevents lot of diseases and people also have it in juice form for the health benefits it provides. Karela is actually a fruit, but is commonly used as a vegetable. Karela has very less number of calories and is rich in vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants.
Karela helps in digestion and also plays a key role in preventing ageing and cancer. In Africa and some other parts, people eat karela to treat stomach problems. They eat them raw or also soak them in olive oil or honey and then eat. The best way to buy Karela is to look out for bright and dark green coloured ones. Young, fresh karelas are less bitter. They grow bitter as they mature. 

Fusion Dish : Karela should be eaten once a week or once in 15 days for all the health benefits mentioned above. The best way is to cook it in a way it doesn't taste so bitter. These days, we don't get too bitter karelas in market, but there is always a solution to make them less bitter. And this filling is surely going to make things just right for your taste buds :) I am uploading 2 versions here... One is the traditional dish that my mother cooks at home... and another is a fusion dish that i had read somewhere and tried it... Its a fusion dish and i am sure you will start loving karelas once u make this :

Ingredients :

Karelas - 3
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Onion - 1 medium ( chopped finely )
Salt - to taste
Green chillies - 2 ( chopped finely )
Oil - 4 tbsp ( preferred olive oil )
Olives - 10-12 Green or black of your choice( cut into halves )
Garlic - 2/3 ( chopped finely )
Ginger - 1 inch piece ( chopped finely )
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp ( crushed or powdered )
Corriander powder - 1 tsp
Garam masala - 1 tsp

Recipe :

Cut the Karelas from between and remove all the seeds and pulp from inside.
Add 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp turmeric powder to this and let it remain for 15 minutes. This removes the bitterness from the Karelas and also they get marinated well.
After 15 minutes, wash the karelas thoroughly with water.
In a pan, add 3 tbsp of oil. Add onions and green chillies and fry for a minute. Add garlic and then saute it all for 3-4 minutes.
Now add the cumin seeds, corriander powder, garam masala, salt and ginger and saute for another minute. 
Now add the olives. Put off the gas and let the pan remain on the gas for a while. Let the mixture cool.
Now, add the mixture to the karelas with a spoon ( like a filling ) and try to close the opening of the karela as close as you can. 
Add 1 tbsp of oil to the same pan, and place karelas carefully. Cover with a lid. Turn the karelas in between, so they get cooked all over. You can even cook them in microwave mode ( on high ) for 5-6 minutes.

Serve this with hot parathas and daal :)

Another traditional version of making stuffed karelas, how my mother makes them is :

Ingredients :

Karela - 5
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Oil - 2 tbsp
Hing - a pinch
Corriander powder - 2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Amchoor powder - 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp ( we like it spicy, but adjust according to taste )
Fennel seeds - 1 tsp ( you can even use 1/2 tsp of powdered form )
Salt - to taste

Recipe :

Peel the skin of the Karelas and wash them well. 
Cut the Karelas from between, leaving the bottom part.Cut in such a way that the bottom should be joined. You can even cut it in two halves but this way the filling is stuffed better inside and doesn't fall out when cooking.
Take out the seeds and pulp and keep it aside. 
Now apply some salt on the karelas ( inside and outside ) and leave them aside for half an hour. Wash them under running water after half an hour, and squeeze all the water from it. This eliminates all the bitterness.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan. Add hing, cumin seeds. Once they splutter, add turmeric powder, corriander powder and fennel seeds to it. Saute for a minute and then add the pulp.
Saute for about 30 secs and then add the masalas - red chilli powder, amchoor powder and salt.
Let it cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Make sure you don't burn the masala.
Now, add this masala into the karela, like a filling.
Press the masala into karelas and tie the karelas with a thread ( cooking thread ), so the masala doesn't come out. You can even cook it without the thread, but adding thread makes sure that it is tied properly and the masala doesn't come out... This is how my mom always makes it :)))
Heat 3 tbsp of oil in the same pan and add the karelas. Cook covered for 5-6 minutes, then turn the karela and cook covered again for 4-5 minutes. Cook till all the sides are brown.
You can serve this with roti or paratha... Tastes awesome :)))
Don't forget to remove the thread before eating ( the picture above shows thread still tied )

Happy Cooking :))

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