For me, it is nothing less than a nightmare to eat Ucche, bitter gourd. You also know this vegetable as Karela in Hindi. As my luck would have it, I happened to grow 6 healthy Bitter Gourd Creepers in my Balcony Garden during the infamous lock-down of twenty first century!
Now, I am stuck in a dilemma. Neither can I eat them with the usual enthusiasm of a foodie (that I am as I would like to believe), nor I can let go because wasting food is a sin in the cultural upbringing I bloomed in.
I kept googling about various recipe that you may try to cook with bitter gourd. Apart from Ucche Bhaja (crispy fried rings of bitter gourd), Ucche diye Daal (daal cooked with bitter gourd) and Shukto, the iconic stew style Bengali vegetarian dish, I could not find anything mind boggling!
S’s mother came to rescue. She had previously suggested why don’t I try to cook the Bengali comfort dish of Bitter gourd and potato boiled together and make a mash of it with mustard oil and green chilies? I shook my head in negation previously. But this time when bitter gourd grew in my balcony, I called her up to know the trick of cooking Alu-Ucche makha this time!
The same dish with a little variation made it to my all time favorite 25 Indian dish list recently! The one where I boil potato and eat them with piping hot rice and Jharna ghee, the ultimate comfort food! I agreed to cook this with a twist of adding Ucche in the end!
How to make Ucche alu makha (bitter gourd and potato boiled)!
Clean a couple of bitter gourd. Chop them round. Take a potato. Peel it and chop. Boil the two together. Add some salt and Jharna ghee and make a paste of the whole entourage. Use your hand to mash it or use a mortar pestle for enhanced taste if you have one at home. Mix in a couple of green chilies. Salt to taste. That’s it! Your Ucche-alu makha is ready.
Ucche alu makha (bitter gourd and potato boiled mash) may be served with piping hot steamed rice. However, I loved it so much, I ate it as is and finished the whole bowl. Next time, I will wait till a few more Ucches to grow on my plant! This is also a vegan friendly dish if you do not mind killing insects and worms with pesticide in the process of growing food. I am not a vegan but I like to point out local dishes that vegans may eat. I am definitely a plant based diet enthusiast but I do not think that is necessarily cruelty free in entirety. However, that discussion will wait for a different space.
Check out more recipe here: Cookbook!
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