Tuesday, October 28, 2008

bitter is better

i disliked bitter gourd from a very young age. actually, i detested it. my mom tried her level best to persuade me to eat bitter gourd. but i just did not budge. till many many years later. ironically, i started liking it after she passed away. bittergourd sambhar(paavakkai sambhar) is de rigueur for a sraddha(annual death ceremony) meal in the south among tambrahms. may be it was the cook who made it so well that i started craving for it and would actually look forward to this sambhar whenever such an opportunity arose.having no sympathisers at home for my newfound love for this bitter vegetable in sambhar form, i decided to take it raw and sometimes as a juice and even as a vegetable fried with slices of onion. all these experiments helped me to satiate my craving for this marvellous vegetable.for me it was an acquired taste.i normally never miss having shuktho when i am in kolkata.nirmal is a phenomenal cook.his shukto,a bengali preparation(mixed vegetable consisting of bitter gourd and also bitter leaves of neem or patol), is so good that i go over the top when he prepares this bitter dish.taken with rice as a starter during lunch by the bengalis it has a cooling effect on the stomach.of course shuktho has other vegetables added to give more taste and flavour alongwith panchphoran and neem leaves as well to add further to the bitterness!

i was not aware till many years later that this vegetable also referred to as bitter melon has multiple health benefits. rich in iron,it has twice the calcium of spinach,twice the potassium of banana and twice the betacarotene of brocolli. and for some of us who get hangovers due to one too many, the bittergourd juice is the perfect antidote. it is a terrific detoxicant and cleanses the liver. low in saturated fat and cholesterol,it provides vitamin A,iron,magnesium and phospherous and also vitamin c, vitamin K and zinc,magnesium and potassium. and it is low in sodium. therefore salting them for removing the bitter taste dose not actually harm you. credited with blood purifying properties,it can even cure skin related problems. people suffering from respiratory problems have immensely benefitted by consuming karela juice regularly. it also acts as a missile against diabetes. juice of the leaves of the plant has excellent medicinal values.

take a cup of bitter juice with a tablespoon of honey. asthma,gout,rheumatism,jaundice and other disorders of spleen and liver will not come near you. drink and eat bitter and feel and be better.

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