Bitter guards are not everybody's idea of tasty food . I love these bitters and even a boiled mash is one of my favorite vegetable side dishes and i can have it daily . But i like variety and a few of the concoctions are liked by the husband too who gets an immediate feeling of nausea at the sight of karela on the table. This one is usually greeted like...ye to karela lag rahai hai ...( looks like bitter guard isn't it? ) ... a few spoonfuls into the plate and he says why don't you make this kind of karela if you want me to eat it...he takes second helpings. As for me, I like my karela mash everyday all through the summers , great detox need i say that?
This bitter guard stir fry is made with a lot of fennel seeds and some chickpea flour to make the bitterness balanced . I never salt and wash the bitter guards before cooking as there will be a lot of nutrient loss that way. Adding some souring agent will make the bitter more flavorful in a balanced way. Tomatoes , amchoor and tamarind are good for balancing the bitters in this guard. Onion plays a good role for the same purpose too.
bitter guards 500 gm
onions 3-4 nos (250 gm)
fennel seeds 1 tbsp
cumin seeds 1 tsp
whole dry red chillies 3-4 nos.
turmeric powder 2 tsp
black pepper powder 1 tsp
chickpea flour(besan) 1.5 tbsp or some more
amchoor powder 1-2 tsp as required
salt to taste
mustard oil 2-3 tbsp
Heat the mustard oil in a kadai and throw in the broken red chillies , and then fennel and cumin seeds. Wait till they splutter and add the chopped onion .
Mix well and stir fry the onions adding salt to taste so that they cook faster. Keep stirring till onions are just translucent and not browned.
Now add the chopped bitter guards , mix well and add the black pepper powder and turmeric powder too. keep stir frying till everything is well coated and the onions get lightly browned and bitter guards are soft and browned at the edges.
The slowly caramelized onion in the dish also works for balancing the bitterness in the guards....those whole fennel seeds look great and taste great too...
Think of enhancing the bitterness with some complementing ingredients...what do you think ?