It’s the custom in the Bengal region of north-east India to start a meal with a bitter dish. Shukto achieves this through the use of karela, a bitter gourd readily available from most Asian grocers. If bitter isn’t your thing you can simply omit this vegetable and use any of your favourite ones.
Two other flavours are common in Bengali dishes, mustard in the form of seed, the oil or kasundi and panch phoran or five spice. This dish combines all these flavours for a traditionally sweet dish with a mild bitterness – or leave out the bitter and keep it sweet. Continue reading “Shukto – Bengali Mixed Vegetable Curry”
This was my first taste of bitter melon or gourd. I bought this morsel from a street-food stall waiting for a bus in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. Asking what it was the vendor shouted “bittaaa” repeatedly, making a “face”. I was intrigued. Continue reading “Thai Bitter Melon With Egg”
This is my first mention of Indian cuisine – not curry, which is a more British invention and I will talk about later. Why the reticence? I think Indian cuisines are so sublime I needed to feel ready to share something SO close to my heart. But enough sentimentality! Let’s get on with the show. Continue reading “Karela Sabzi – Indian Spiced Bitter Gourd”
Momordica Charantia – AKA Bitter Melon or Karela
I’ve been coming across this knobbly green gourd for years in London, as I’m in the habit of frequenting Asian and Oriental shops and market-stalls where they’re ubiquitous. Yet, not knowing what to do with it I’ve simply passed it by. Continue reading “Bitter-Gourd – a cure for diabetes?”