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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Alu-Uchchhe Bhaja

Uchchhe - a Type of Bitter Gourd

             Bitter gourd is commonly translated as Karela (Hindi) / Karala (Bengali, pronounced: kaw-ro-laa) but "uchchhe" is a much smaller and a little round as you can see in the picture below. 
Uchchhe Fresh from Market
      It is quite common in Bengal but I'm not sure if it is much available in other parts of India. Most commonly we shallow fry thinly chopped Uchchhe or boil it whole along with rice when we cook steamed rice.

Potato and Bitter Gourd Sauteed Together Ready to Serve
          To make this dish, we chop the vegetables thinly but not too thin. We heat oil and add "panch forhon", a seasoning consisting of five types of seeds (panch [a nasalised and n not pronounced] = five, and phorhon = seasoning in this context). We add the vegetables and add turmeric powder and stir and mix. We cover the lid and lower the flame and let it cook. Since we cook it this way, covering it on a low flame, we do not need to add a lot of oil. We cook it till tender. We need to check and stir in between. But if you cook regularly you know when to check. When it is almost done we add salt and mix it well and cover it again till done. It is served with steamed rice.
        Traditionally our meals start with something bitter and end with sweets though nowadays we eat neither sweets nor something bitter everyday. But if you cook Uchchhe, you have to eat it first, before putting anything else into your mouth.

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