I remember waiting eagerly for Vinayaka Chaturthi (Chovathi in Konkani) to come, to run to my paternal uncle’s place. The eldest member of our family, my uncle would celebrate Vinayaka Chaturthi every year, seeking the blessings of Lord Ganapathi (Ganesha), for the health, happiness and prosperity of all the members of our family. The celebrations would last for 5 to 7 days with feast after feast, culminating in pooja (worship) and a send off to the idol of the Lord.
Nearly a hundred members of the family from all over the country and a good number of close friends would come together to make it a gala occasion for all of us. One of the favored pickles served at the feast was karathya nonche or bitter gourd pickle. Hot, spicy and savory, with the natural bitterness of deep-fried bitter gourd, this instant pickle was a synonym for goodness in the itinerary of the gourmet guests.
Yesterday, when my husband went to the village to pick up his newspaper, he found a farmer squatting with a heap of organic tender bitter gourds. On his return, he put a little bundle in my hands, and I was delighted to have locally grown, fresh, green bitter gourds so late in the season. Then and there, I made some karathya nonche. It tasted so good that I just had to share the recipe with you! Enjoy this delicious bitter gourd pickle with any rice dish, or with idlis, appos, dosas or surnalis.
|Prep Time||30 minutes|
|Cook Time||30 minutes|
- 200 gm tender bitter gourd
- 20 gm dry hot red chilies
- 15 gm tamarind
- 1 gm mustard seeds
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 1 gm asafoetida powder
- 1 gm fenugreek seeds
- 20 gm powdered salt
- 500 ml water
- 250 ml cooking oil to deep fry
- Put the tamarind into a small pan. Pour in a cup of water. Set it on the stove.
- As soon as it comes to a boil, switch off the heat and set aside to cool.
- Slice the tender bitter gourd, seeds and all, neatly into thin (3 mm / 1/8-inch) round slices and put them in a mixing bowl.
- Sprinkle a teaspoonful (5 gm) of powdered salt over the pieces and let them rest for 15 minutes.
- Set a wok or frying pan on high heat. Pour in the cooking oil.
- As soon as the oil is hot (it should not smoke), take a fistful of bitter gourd slices and squeeze them once to leech out and discard the excess juice. Put the slices into the hot oil. Continue likewise with the rest of the slices.
- Stir continuously for 3 minutes. Lower the heat. Lift out the deep-fried slices and drain off the excess oil.
- Drop the dry hot red chilies into the oil. Stir for just 6 seconds. Lift out and drain. Switch off the heat.
- The tamarind pan should have cooled down by now. Squeeze the tamarind thoroughly between your fingers and sieve out the juice. Discard the tamarind fibers.
- Put the fried chilies into your food processor. Pour in the tamarind juice and grind to fine paste.
- Set a cast-iron wok on high heat. Take 20 ml of the cooking oil in which you just fried the bitter gourd and pour it in.
- Throw in the mustard seeds.
- As soon as the mustard seeds are about to finish bursting, tip in the fenugreek seeds.
- Once the fenugreek seeds start crackling, tip in the asafoetida powder. Quickly pull the curry leaves off their sprig and throw them in.
- Pour in the chili paste and the remaining water. Tip in the remaining salt.
- As soon as it starts to boil, tip in the deep-fried bitter gourd chips. Stir occasionally till it boils well. Switch off theh eat and cover with a lid.
- Your delicious bitter gourd pickle is ready to serve. Enjoy!
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