Bitter gourd or what we call karolla/karela is one of those vegetables which even veggie lovers try to avoid. A somewhat smaller in shape is the ucche which is quite hard to find in Kolkata, leave aside somewhere outside India. These two cousins with their bitter taste, avoided by almost all have a niche in Bengali cuisine. During my childhood, summer lunch always meant a bowl of alu-karolla sedho (boiled potato and bitter gourd) drenched in mustard oil or even the dudh shukto. While most of my friends hated these preparations, I was and am in love with this bitter vegetable.
I was in Spencer’s yesterday, when I got hold of some fresh karolla and there I was holding a couple of bitter gourd thinking of what to prepare with it. The first thought was preparing some fried karola, but then left the idea because of the amount of oil that comes along with it. Shukto is my all-time favorite, but then raw papaya is quite hard to find in Bangalore. Do let me know if you are aware of any place where you get fresh green papaya in Bangalore.
After some thinking and peeping into my refrigerator, I thought of preparing the tetor dal (pulses with bitter gourd). Tetor dal is my mom’s specialty. I have never tasted such mouth-watering dal anywhere. And, after all no restaurant not even Oh! Calcutta or some Bengali specialty restaurant will serve tetor dal, whatsoever. So, here’s a beginner’s guide to preparing the karola, lau and jhinga diye dal (lentils with three different gourds).
- 200gms bitter gourd, cut into rings
- 1 medium size ridge gourd/ jhinga, chopped into rings
- ½ of a small gourd/ lau, cut to 1” size hemispherical pieces
- 1 cup yellow lentil/ mung dal
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 green chili
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste
- 3 tablespoon mustard oil
- Salt to taste
- Wash the lentils and start boiling with 2 cups of water
- As the lentils get half cooked, put in the ridge gourd and the gourd
- Heat 2 tablespoons of mustard oil in a wok and fry the bitter gourd till half done
- Add the fried karola to the boiling dal
- Once the vegetables are completely cooked, add the turmeric, and cumin powder
- Heat the extra oil in a deep bottom pan, throw in the bay leaf and cumin seeds
- As the seeds start sputtering, pour in the dal and stir once
- Keep over flame till the dal starts boiling
- Take out of flame, add a dollop of ghee (optional) and serve hot with warm rice and fries.
Hot Tips – If you are an absolute hater of bitter gourd, then just give it a miss .