You say karela, and I say korola and they both wince when you bring it in! Yes, that is essentially the story of our household. Let me explain, the bitter melon is called karela in Hindi and Korola in Bengali and both my husband I (we speak Hindi and Bengali, respectively) salivate over this bitter and amazingly healthy vegetable, as for the kids, I am still working on them.
The bitter melon is an an acquired taste but a much loved vegetable for those who have learnt to appreciate its unique taste. It is very good for you and actually counteracts diabetes. Which, if you are a bengali like me is just as well, because we have an incurable sweet tooth but are also very fond of the bitter melon.
I meant to post this recipe earlier in the week, but life got in the way. This is the bitter pre-curser much like myrrh, I promise to post sweetness before the week is over. Anyway, I feel like rotten mom of the year because I had promised the kids a small Christmas tree and by the time I got to the store all the little ones had gone. I did not want to be stuck with a big Christmas tree, so no Christmas tree this year. It is actually a rather solemn Christmas because we cannot do much by way of food because of my daughter’s bug which is actually beginning to worry me now.
Back to the dish on hand, a bhorta is a well spiced relish that is enjoyed in particular in the East Bengali (Bangladeshi) style of cooking. This particular recipe is done the traditional way, with two exceptions. I have roasted the delicata, instead of boiling the pumpkin, as one traditionally would and have been a little moderate in my use of chili peppers.
But the recipe was really very good. Another victory for the delicata! To serve this, as I do, the traditional way, the mashed mixture is shaped into balls and served with rice and lentils on the side. The proportion of bitter melon to the squash is about 1 is to 2. I say this, because, I have made this many times but I use vegetables from the garden and do not usually weigh them.
A simple Bengali recipe, pairing bitter melon with winter squash and roasting the squash in this variation to enhance the flavors.
- 1 medium sized delicata squash
- 1 medium sized bitter melon
- 1 small red onion, cut into a very fine dice
- 1 green chili minced
- 4 tablespoons mustard oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon prepared commercial mustard
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Coarsely ground black pepper to garnish
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Cut the squash in half and scoop out the seeds and place on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.
- Cut the bittermelon into wedges and boil in some water for 20 minutes.
- Cool the squash and scoop out the flesh and place in a mixing bowl.
- Remove the central seeds from the bitter melon and place in a food process and process until finely chopped.
- Mash the bitter melon with the squash.
- Mix in red onion, green chili, mustard oil, salt, commercial mustard, cilantro and red pepper flakes and mix well.
- Place in a bowl and garnish with black pepper and serve with the meal or store and use as a relish as desired.