Power House of Nutrients beneficial for us
Bitter gourd also called as Karela in India has been said to be found originating in Kerala from where it was later introduced to china around 14th century making it one of the staple vegetables across cuisines around south Asian countries. It is also called as bitter melon; this bright green super bitter vegetable is perhaps the least favorite of all many around the world! Not to forget every coin has two sides while on one side most people put away karela and have a weird expression to simply its name being taken on the other hand it is loaded with goodness which can be helpful for our body in many ways.
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We also come across conversations when we speak about karela where the elders in the house grandmothers and mums would speak about its benefits and include it in daily cooking once in a while the mere fact that the word bitter attached to it kept it away from many of us. In reality, I would personally recommend each one of us to try this vegetable and adapt to its taste and must include it in our routines since it is not fair to be ignored or being kept away.
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A Few Health Benefits of Bitter Gourd or Karela:
- It comprises of various vital nutrients including magnesium, iron, and potassium.
- It is rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin B1, B2, B3 & B9.
- Bitter gourd is a rich source of good dietary fiber.
- It is said to bring down cholesterol levels in our body.
- Bitter gourd is rich in iron content and also a good immunity booster besides being good for the heart as well.
- Karela is also regarded as good for our eye health and vision.
- It helps maintain blood sugar and is also a blood purifier.
- Karela is said to be good for the liver and gout health.
- It is also considered good for our skin health & helps keep the glow on.
- Karela is also good for weight management & loss.
- It is also an anti-fungal agent in our body.
Culinary Uses of Bitter Gourd or Karela:
- Karela has been one of the most commonly used vegetables in our Indian kitchens and from simple karele ki subzi in pyaaz tamatar ka masala to bharwan or stuffed karela, karele ke chips are also popular.
- Bitter gourd or karela has also been popularly used in making juice which is considered good for diabetic patients, besides we also have sukhe masale wala karela, karele ki tikiya, we also have a few recipes in which we use karela in curries as well in a nice mild gravy.
- Karela muthiya, karele ka kofta, besan aur karele ka saalan, karela stuffing goes well into a paratha as well for a change, karele ka achaar, small baby karela can also be cooked in coriander and garlic masala too, karela batata nu shaak and karela with chana dal/ moong dal also comes out well.
- Speaking of it on a global culinary platform it also has been recognized in many cuisines in the form of adding a good eye appeal in plating and decorating meals as well. A bitter gourd salsa with sun dried tomatoes and garlic in olive oil tastes amazing with corn chips.
- Stuffing of bitter gourd is followed internationally as well just that the fillings change into more exotic ingredients like cream cheese and wild mushrooms, chicken mince and olive and pepper stuffing.
- Bitter gourd goes well in a fried rice and stir fried noodle concept as well combining it with a variety of flavors and veggies, sauces and condiments just brings out the taste.
- Exploring and experimenting is the key to adapting to this super beneficial ingredient and try doing it in variety of sauces in the form of baked dishes, stews combine it with chickpeas/beans of your choice too.
- A bitter gourd salad is also popular and dressings including mustard/vinegar/lime/seasonings like sea salt/ pink salt, crushed black pepper, add ons like jalapeno peppers, olives and gherkins also bring out its taste well.
- I have also tried doing a stuffed karela with filling of boiled mashed potato and peas spiced Indian style and cooked it in an onion tomato masala and layered to into a dum biryani concept as well and served it with a birishta- brown onion raita with anar in it.
Here are a few of my favorite recipes with Bitter Gourd / Karela:
Recipe-1] ACHARI MASTI WALE KARELE
Recipe-2] KARELA AUR CHANE KI DAL KA DALCHA
Recipe-3] INDO – FUSION KARELE KI SUBZI
Recipe- 4] SOY AUR KARELE KA DUMDAAR KEEMA
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About the author
Dr. Kaviraj Khialani – celebrity master chef - is a Mumbai-based author, writer, academician, food –health-lifestyle coach, mentor & consultant.
He is specialized in over 33 International Cuisines & has worked with brands like the Taj Group of Hotels, Kuwait Airways to name a few. Chef Kaviraj has been awarded several Global and National Awards for his outstanding performance and achievements in his chosen field. He has been featured on Star Plus and Colors Television on several food shows as well.