STIR FRIED BITTER MELON & POTATOES
Menus and Memories from Punjab
by Veronica Sidhu
Use either Indian (smaller, rougher, darker green) or Chinese bitter melons (smoother and light green). The juice of the bitter melon (momordica charantia) has been proven to lower blood sugar. I am one of the lucky diabetics who have been able to control the disease with diet and exercise alone. If my sugar has been somewhat high, I try to make something with bitter melon, adding some of the slices to my portion of vegetable, lentil, or meat curry. But I prepare it for myself without salt and fat. Not as tasty, but it works for me to slowly dry the slices in the oven and then freeze the surplus. (Vegan)
Yield: 8 to 10 small servings
• 1½ pounds bitter melon (karela)
• 1 tablespoons salt
• 2 medium red potatoes
• 1 large yellow onion
• 1/3 cup canola oil
• 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
• 1/4 teaspoon whole or ground cumin seeds
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
• 1 teaspoon green mango powder (amchoor)
• 1 teaspoon chaat masala (a spice mix)
• 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
• Black pepper to taste
The night before: Peel the melons and cut into 1/3-inch- wide rounds. (Some do not like to leave the seeds in, but I do, they add crunch.) Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons salt and toss several times.
The next day: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Oil a baking sheet. Squeeze several of the melon slices over the sink to release as much bitter juice as possible and place on the baking sheet. Repeat until you have a single layer of rounds. Spritz the slices with non-stick spray and put in the oven for 20 minutes. Turn with a spatula and continue to bake for 25 more minutes. Allow to cool. The cooled slices may be frozen to be used at another time if you aren't using them right away.
Slit the skin of the potatoes in several places and mi- crowave them for 5 minutes. Cool. Slice the onion length- wise into 1/4-inch-thick crescents. In a wok, heat the oil and add the onions, stir-frying until golden. Peel the potatoes and cut them into wedges. Fry the potatoes with the onions for several minutes. Add the (thawed) melon slices and fry for 10 minutes. Add the spices (turmeric through chaat masala), salt, and pepper and fry for another minute or two, stirring constantly. Serve immediately.