The moment you say karela (bitter gourd) half the people I know cringe. It is a much-maligned vegetable and very few people can really handle the bitterness of karela, me included! And so the bitter gourd almost never found a place in my shopping basket or refrigerator. That is, until my mom-in-law arrived...
Mom makes some really amazing bitter gourd fry that I have tasted earlier... it's really simple. Grate away the skin, slit the gourds in the middle and de-seed if you like, cut each bitter gourd into 2-inch pieces, and stuff with dry masala (salt, coriander powder, cumin powder, aamchur, pepper). Then tie up the pieces with some string so that the masala doesn't fall out of the slits, and shallow fry in about 4-5tbsp of oil. Voila! You have this amazing side dish of spicy fried bitter gourd!
But I'm sure every household has some version of this. However, this post is not about the Karela fry. Now I have you confused, don't I? Ok, it is about the skin of the bitter gourd. Yes, go back and read the first line... that dark green ridged skin that we grate away? Now just save that for my mom-in-law's mind-blowing bitter-gourd skin fritters. Yes, you heard me right! Tikkis or pakoras made with karele ka chilka :)
Fritters made with the skin of Bitter Gourds
Bitter gourd skin - grated - 1/2 cup
Besan (Gram flour) - 1 cup
Cooking soda (Meetha soda) - 1/2 tsp
Ajwain - 1 tsp
Coriander seeds - 1 tsp
Finely sliced onions (optional) - 1 small
Green chillies - 2
Oil - 1/2 cup
Squeeze out the water from the grated bitter gourd skin. Make sure you dont grate the skin too finely otherwise it will just be a mush. Add the besan, salt, pepper, ajwain and soda and mix well. Lightly crush the coriander seeds and sprinkle. Slice the green chillies into small pieces and add along with the pepper. You can also add some finely sliced onions and fresh coriander leaves. Splash a little water and mix all these ingredients together to form a light dough. Take small amounts of this mixture and pat into flat round shapes.
Now take these tikkis/pakoras and shallow fry them in a frying pan with 1/2 cup of vegetable oil.
The way I like it:
Garnish with fried onions or fresh coriander leaves and serve hot and crispy with some sweet chilli sauce or tomato sauce. Great as a tea time snack or as an accompaniment with rice and rotis.
I totally lost count of how many I devoured!! And yes, it took a lot of self control to not gobble them up immediately and click these pictures instead, much to my mom-in-law's amusement!