My office (not the client side where I work currently) used to have this amazing lunch item made from karela (bitter gourd). It was finely sliced karela fried with loads of onion and roasted peanuts. The only flavoring added was a dash of salt and chilly powder. To say it was yummy, was an understatement. Considering that generally karela is the most avoided vegetable, it was a testimony to the cook’s skill that people used to pile his fried karela on their plates. It was the most sought-after item on the lunch menu!!
Anyhow, I tried my hand at the recipe today. It wasn’t as tasty and attractive as the one available in office, but suffice to say, it was edible. The BF, as usual, gave it a wide margin. BIL and GMIL liked it
Well, the reason for this post is not to plug my culinary skills with the bitter veg. But while making it, I realized how wonderfully, this vegetable has turned the tide with me. There was a time when I couldn’t tolerate the thought of putting a morsel of it in my mouth. Those were the days when the Pater used to sit at the head of the dining table , taking note of which child tried to be generous with his veggies with his neighbor. His stern eyes were enough to make us gobble the thing down, without even bothering to chew. Aapa had a knack of simply swallowing it whole with a glass of water. We hated it that much!!!
Over the years, gradually, but surely, we learned to accept it. It helped that Mom tried many different recipes and kept it new and fresh every time. Surprisingly, ALL my siblings LOVE this vegetable now.
One such time, when I was in B’lore, Mom had sent me and bro to buy vegetables. One of the items listed there was karela. Now, we had eaten the veggie many times, but I didn’t recollect any instance of me personally buying any of it (subconsciously, we were still vary of it, I guess ). Mom’s parting words were ,”Khushrang karele lana” , or something to that effect. Roughly translated, it means, “Get happy coloured bitter gourds”.
“Happy??”, mused the Bro, “Mom bhi na….!!”
“Happy…!!”, exclaimed moi,”Karela???? HAHA!!! What a joke!!”
Anyhow, we sped off to the veg-bazaar to hunt for Happy-coloured Karelas. Going through various stalls, we came across karelas that looked like these :-
Did it look happy to you? What was a happy-coloured karela supposed to look like anyway??
We saw the same in various sizes, varying from dark green to grey-green in colour. But they did not invoke the ‘happy’ sentiment in us. Unanimously, bro and I rejected those karelas outright!!
We weren’t satisfied. Something told us that this is not what Mom meant. We kept on hunting and had practically rejected every stall selling the veg. When we were almost ready to give up and take the karelas home, we came across these :-
Voila!! the Khushrang karelas indeed
Its not just the light effect. The happy karelas are indeed a vivid shade of green. The green of fresh leaves and moss. It almost looks too pretty to be eaten.
We happily packed our parcel and headed home. Mom was right after all. There do exist happy-coloured veggies
And it tastes bitter too (HA! I cracked a pun !!).
So the next time you plan on buying karela, buy the ones which are fresh green in colour. Don’t buy the ones which are dark and dull. And in case you want the recipe for the fried karela, you may mail me. What the hell?? I KNOW you wont, so don’t bother. I’ll take the secret recipe to my grave .
I guess you think I’ve lost my marbles, dedicating an entire post to karelas, of all things!!
Sigh, good things come in bitter packages my friend! You won’t find me complaining of diabetes in my old age