Update as of 6 November 2009
Have you quizzed people on their most favoured vegetable and their most detested ones? Most often the favourites would include the ever popular potato or the heady white cauliflower while some people may quote the orange carrot or even the green beans. Many people – many favourites, but ask them for the unmentionable and you would usually get a choral reply – the bitter gourd, Karela. Now personally this is not among my top 3 favourites, but it never resides in the “Hate” list. The humble discard from many kitchens is reserved for ailing senior citizens or diabetic middle-aged Indians. It is eaten more as a comfort food – not because it is comforting, but because the eater mentally comforts his tongue and taste buds to eat it for the well being of the pancreas! Convoluted, complicated, but true… it is believed that the bitter gourd guards against higher levels of glucose in the blood and is an “antidote” to diabetes. Some people believe that the bitter taste also rekindles a weak liver and so is a good digestive elixir. I doubt if these are really true – but that is one of the key reasons why this lowly vegetable finds pride of place in a vegetable market or even in a housewife’s shopping list. For those of you who haven’t had many trysts with this bitter veg, it is green coloured, grows on vines, is usually 6 – 8 inches long, has a waxy skin and a rough surface resembling mini mountain ranges along the length of the gourd. Not many people peel this vegetable – lest it lose its identity – the multi-ridged surface as well as the bitter taste; so they are either sliced or diced with their seeds intact and soaked in salt and turmeric powder to overpower its taste. The veggie is cooked in various forms – dry, a tangy curry with tamarind, or as a dal tempered with coconut paste, or even as crispy toasted snack.
One look at the SENSEX chart of the day and you would know that the D Street Boyz had to be on a Karela diet, (at least for today). For one it was green all day, it had a jagged edge to it throughout its journey and followed days of ill-health on D Street. So even if the SENSEX did not bounce up too high, it moderated its movement through the day to end modestly up 94 points to end at 16158. So if winds of change on D Street pulled back the SENSEX yesterday, it was key in pushing the index up further today – the winds must have been strong especially given that the windmills are made in Pune – a good 160 kms away from D Street. The weak past week seems to have revived – and maybe it is the miracle veggie that helped it get to this level from 15896 last week-end.
But getting back to why it features in my “will eat” list – believe me, it tastes most divine if cooked in roundels with sliced potatoes and onions, and very little spice. Yumm…. This was perhaps the best dish dished out at our hostel mess. I used to gorge on it and even agreed to my class-fellows dropping their discarded karela onto my plate. Yumm… And in case you are wondering whether I have had much of this gourd this week, you are right – had it for 2 days in succession and I must admit that the missus makes it really well!
Have a Nice Weekend ….. Cheers