7 Traditional Bengali Recipes To Make Using Bitter Gourd
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Bitter gourd, known as uchche in Bengali, holds a special place in traditional Bengali cuisine. Uchche describes the quote, "The bitter, the better!" Though the taste is strong and bitter, uchche is celebrated for its flavour and health benefits. Historically, uchche has been used in various dishes to start a meal, believed to cleanse the palate and prepare it for the array of flavours to follow. The legacy of uchche in Bengali kitchens dates back to ancient times, when it was not just a culinary ingredient but also a medicinal one. Bitter gourd dishes were often recommended by Ayurvedic doctors for their numerous health benefits.

There is a remarkable variety of dishes that feature uchche in Bengali cuisine. Bitter gourd ranges from simple fried preparations to complex mixed vegetable curries. Whether it’s a crispy uchche bhaja or a hearty uchche chorchori, the bitter gourd adds a distinctive taste that is hard to forget. Here are some traditional Bengali dishes you can try at home with bitter gourd.

Classic Bengali Dishes To Try At Home With Bitter Gourd Or Uchhe Tarkari

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Uchche Bhaja

Uchhe bhaja is a simple yet delightful fried bitter gourd dish. To make Uchhe Bhaja, slice the bitter gourd into thin rounds and soak them in water for 10 minutes. Heat the mustard oil until it smokes, then fry the slices on a high flame for two minutes. Reduce the heat and continue frying until they turn dark brown. The next step is to incorporate the spices (salt, turmeric, and red chilli powder), stir thoroughly, and heat until the spices are cooked through. Don't forget to serve immediately with rice and lentils.

Uchhe Chorchori

 Uchhe Chorchori is a traditional Bengali mixed vegetable dish that includes bitter gourd. To prepare this dish, first soak mustard and poppy seeds for 30 minutes and grind them into a fine paste with green chillies. Cut bitter gourds and potatoes into pieces. Heat mustard oil until smoking, then add panch phoron and dry red chillies. Fry the potatoes lightly, then add bitter gourd and turmeric powder. Sauté for a few minutes, add water, and cook until vegetables are halfway done. Add salt and the mustard-poppy seed paste, mix well, and serve hot with rice.

Uchcher Dal/Tetor Dal

 Uchcher Dal is an exclusive combination of bitter gourd with moong dal that creates a nutritious and flavourful dish. To cook it, first dry roast moong dal until lightly browned, then pressure cook it with bottle gourd pieces. Sauté chopped bitter gourd in oil until browned, and set aside. Add mustard seeds to the oil, followed by grated ginger and slit green chillies. Mix in the cooked dal and bottle gourd, add fried bitter gourd pieces, and boil with water and salt. Finish with a dash of ghee and serve with steamed rice.

 Uchche Kumro Bhaja

 Uchche kumro bhaja is a stir-fried dish made with bitter gourd and pumpkin. Cut the bitter gourd and pumpkin into strips. Heat mustard oil until it smokes, then add mustard seeds and dried red chillies. Fry the bitter gourd until light brown, then add pumpkin, turmeric, salt, and sugar. The dish needs to cook until both vegetables are browned and soft. This dish is best enjoyed at the beginning of a meal with a spoonful of rice.

 Uchche Chapor Ghonto

 Uchche Chapor Ghonto is a unique dish made with bitter gourd and dal fritters. First, make dal fritters by mixing turmeric and salt with dal batter, frying until dry, then shaping into flat pieces. Fry the fritters and set them aside. In the same oil, fry thinly sliced potatoes and bitter gourd until lightly browned. Add ginger paste, water, and the fritters. Once the water is absorbed, add the mustard-poppy seed paste and cook until everything is well combined. Serve with rice.

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Aloo Uchhe Jhal

 Aloo Uchhe Jhal is a spicy, bitter gourd and potato curry. Slice bitter gourd and potatoes, then fry them with panch phoron in mustard oil. Add salt, turmeric, and green chillies. You need to cook until the vegetables are tender and the spices are well incorporated. This dish is typically served at the beginning of a meal with rice.

Uchher Tarkari With Panchphoron Masala

For a simple yet flavourful Uchher tarkari with panchphoron, slice bitter gourd and soak in water. Heat mustard oil until smoking; add panch phoron spice mix and dry red chillies. Fry the bitter gourd slices until crispy and golden brown. Sprinkle with salt and serve hot as an appetiser or side dish.

 Adding uchche to your cooking introduces a unique taste and also brings numerous health benefits. These traditional Bengali dishes demonstrate the versatility of bitter gourd in various culinary forms. From simple fries to complex curries, uchche can transform an ordinary meal into a flavourful feast. Try these dishes at home to experience the rich legacy of Bengali cuisine.