I’m back again with a vegetable which is not liked by many people and this time again I’m posting a stuffed version and that too using chana besan (Chickpea Flour) but used in an unprocessed form i.e, I’m using the lentils. In my previous version posted here years back, I had used the chickpea flour as well as the Bengal gram and Split black gram. Other than the Bengal Gram, the ingredients used in making both the fillings are quite different.
As you all can see that my current hot favourite is, using raw mangoes in my cooking by all means possible. I have already posted the Tender Mangoes in Brine and Tender Mangoes Pickle earlier this month. Normally, I would use the amchoor (dry mango powder) for adding sourness but with the fresh raw mangoes available, I either add the grated or cooked pulp. I’ve a readily available pulp of the raw mango available in the fridge which I also use to make fresh Panna, and in this particular recipe, I’ve used it to add the adequate tanginess to the filling.
I’m happy with the current event of ‘Only’ Cooking with Grains happening this month at Shruti’s place, as it is pushing me to try various grains in an innovative way. I’ve already posted the Navadhanya Poori (नवधान्य पूरी) in which I used the nine grains and in the coming future one would find many more posts on Grains cooked in an innovative way here.
A few days back while I and DH went for some vegetable shopping we saw the small bitter gourds for the first time in the market. I asked S, whether I should pick a few and try them. S, was not very sure that I should indulge into the smaller ones but I convinced him somehow, as I already had a recipe running in my mind. The inspiration behind this stuffing has come from my Mom’s friend who is a Punjabi Brahmin. She stays away from onion and garlic and cooks amazing food. I had heard her verbally telling my Mom this recipe and I’ve tried the recipe recalling what I had over heard. Obviously I have tweaked a few things to suit my palate .
I served the stuffed Bitter Gourd with rice and tomato daal. This version tastes best like this but I’m sure should taste great with paratha too. I was hesitant to try the ‘Bharwaan Karela’ initially but tried them from S’s plate and fell in love with them instantly. They were not bitter at all. The heeng, fennel and raw mangoes had produced amazing taste, mixed with the lentils. If you hate the bitter gourd, do try it this way and I’m sure you would love eating them again.
Stuffed Bitter Gourd With A Bengal Gram Filling
Preparation Time: 2-3hrs | Cooking Time: 15-20mins | Serves: 4-5 | Difficulty Level: Moderate
14-15 small, tender bitter gourds
2tsp + 2tbsp oil
1/2tsp cumin seeds
1-1/2tsp fennel seeds, pounded
a generous pinch of asafoetida
3/4tsp turmeric powder
2-3tsp red chilli powder
3tsp coriander powder
1tsp cumin powder
2-3tbsp cooked raw mango pulp or grated raw mango or amchoor (adjust as per your taste and sourness of the mango)
salt to taste + salt for applying
1/2cup of Bengal Gram, soaked in water for 1hour
Pressure cook the lentils and give one whistle. Cool and strain the water if any. The lentils should be cooked through but not mushy.
Peel the bitter gourds, slit them halfway and remove the seeds to create a cavity inside. Wash them and apply salt inside and outside, leave aside for 2-3hrs. I left them overnight in the refrigerator. Wash with water again to rinse off excess salt and bitterness. One can also half cook them in water along with salt and tamarind. Check this post here to understand more..
Heat 2tsp oil in a non stick pan and crackle the cumin.
Add the fennel seeds and reduce the flame.
Now add the asafoetida, red chilli, turmeric, coriander and cumin powders. Mix thoroughly, add salt and roast on low flame for a few seconds else the spices would burn.
Add the mango pulp and cooked lentils and mix thoroughly. Cook for 5mins on low flame and keep mixing, so that it does not stick to the bottom.
Cool the filling and fill it in the cavities of the bitter gourd (about 1to1-1/2tsp) and then tie a thread around so that the filling does not come out. Repeat the procedure for all the gourds.
Heat the remaining oil in a non stick pan and lay the stuffed bitter gourds one by one, ensuring that they do not touch each other.
Cook first on high flame and then on low flame and cook on all sides. Keep turning the gourds to ensure even cooking. If required, cover with a lid. The bitter gourds will look dark in colour after cooking, do not worry they are not burnt as long as they are cooked on low flame and turned frequently.