Friday, May 23, 2008

Easy Parikkai Fry (Baked Bitter Melon Stir Fry With Indian Spices)

If you have never tried bitter melon before, it might take time to develop a taste for it. According to my sister, bitter melon (Parikkai in Tamil) Fry is the perfect side dish for Ripe Mango Pulisseri; the bitter tang of parikkai perfectly balances the sweet-and-sour of the pulisseri.

Bitter Melons (Momordica charantia) are considered very healthful vegetables according to Indian lore of ancient medicine known as Ayur Veda. Eating them or even drinking their juice regularly is considered a good practice for cleansing the blood and controlling blood sugars as well as blood pressure. They are eaten as a vegetable and also used medicinally in China, Vietnam, and other Asian countries.

There are two main types of bitter melon; smoother Chinese type and the very bumpy Indian. Choose firm, green, medium sized veggies when buying either type of bitter melon; yellowing ones are old and soft. Test the seeds with your fingernails; if they are not soft and tender, I remove them. Some like to leave the seeds in for the crunch even when they are not soft; see how you like it by leaving a few in if you wish.

Food processors are wonderfully helpful in slicing evenly and quickly; if you have one do use it to slice bitter melon. The trick to reducing kitchen clutter is to quickly wash gadgets (i.e., the food processor) as soon as you are finished with them and put them away so that you are not faced with a mountain of things to wash later.

I bake the parikkai/bitter melon slices in the oven to shorten the stove-top cooking time; baking also frees me to oversee other goings on in the kitchen. Once the slices are baked, it takes just a few minutes to quickly season them.
 Bitter melon ready for roasting


4 medium Parikkai/Bitter Melon
a little oil
a pinch or two of salt
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Sambar Powder or Cayenne to taste
1 tsp Aamchoor (Dried Mango Powder) or 1/2 Lime

1-2 Tbsp Oil
1/2 tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
1 Tbsp Chana Dal (Optional)
1 or 2 Hot Green Chilies


Wash and dry the bitter melons well; cut the bitter melons in half lengthwise and if the seeds are not soft, scoop out and discard the seeds. Slice thinly and evenly. (If you like round slices, slice them first and then sort out and remove any tough seeds.)

Oil a large baking sheet and spread the veggies in an even layer; sprinkle with salt and drizzle with a Tbsp of oil. Bake in a 400 degree F oven stirring 2 or 3 times for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Let cool.

Wash and dry the green chilies. Slit the ends or slice them in half lengthwise for easy removal after cooking. Chilies are added to impart flavor; they are not generally eaten unless one is particularly fond of eating hot chilies. If a hot dish is preferred, the chilies can be finely chopped before adding to the thalippu.

Heat the oil for thalippu in a large skillet or wok; add chana dal and the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds dance, add asafetida, green chilies and the baked bitter melon slices. Sprinkle the turmeric, sambar powder, and the aamchoor (or Lime juice) over all and stir well to coat.
Cook until heated through and well mixed. Check for seasoning, add more salt or lime juice if needed and cook until salt is incorporated well.

Serve hot with hot rice or chapatis and any dal, sambar, or Ripe Mango Pulisseri.

Bitter melon Fry with Ripe Plantain Pulisseri


Unknown said...

Hi Geetha,
this is the season of raw mangoes. You can substitute Aam Choor with
grated green mangoes. Use 2 to 3 tsp.of sour raw mango. It will be nice and will lessen the bitterness also.

Geetha said...

Sounds very good, Hema :). I will try Parikkai Fry with green mangoes. Thank you also for your tip to add the aamchoor (mango powder) towards the end to prevent it from burning.

Anonymous said...

how are you?

Great share, thanks for your time

Anonymous said...

Hi - I am really glad to discover this. cool job!

Geetha said...

Thank you Anons for your visits and comments. Keep on cooking! - Geetha