Friendship Day: 10 Bitter & Sour Foods, Unlikely Health Besties
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Come friendship day, or any other day for that matter, and every foodie believes their best friends are the tastiest dishes out there. You might think that your best friends when it comes to food are delicious burgers and fries, or keema and pav or kebab and naan. You may even assume that the foodie friend that always provides you with comfort is khichdi or pasta. But the fact is, that while these are all Fairweather friends, there are some foods that you don’t usually like the taste of but are just what you need. 

And a friend in need is a friend indeed, right? Of course it is, and in the world of food, it is not just sweet and savoury delights who can be your friends. In fact, they might be your more obvious friends but the friends who actually stand by your side through sickness and health are bitter and sour foods. They are never at the top of your go-to or hangout lists, but these are the unlikely besties who will save your life. 

This Friendship Day, let’s not just celebrate the amazing food combos we all love and the dishes that are indulgent enough to bring us comfort. This Friendship Day, take a look at your unlikely besties, the bitter and sour ingredients that make your food, especially Indian food, lifesaving friends who support you through immunity fails and seasonal damages. 

Video Credit: YouTube/Hebbars Kitchen

Bitter Gourd 

Bitter gourd is a green, bumpy-textured vegetable known for its intense bitterness—and we all hate it by the name of Karela. It is rich in essential nutrients like vitamins B, C, and E, iron, and magnesium. Bitter gourd is highly regarded for its potential to lower blood sugar levels, making it beneficial for people with diabetes. Additionally, it aids in weight management, boosts immunity, and supports liver function. While some find its bitterness challenging, it can be prepared in various ways, such as stir-fries, stuffed dishes, or as a component of mixed vegetable curries. 


Tamarind or Imli is a brown, tangy fruit commonly used as a souring agent in Indian cuisine. It is a rich source of vitamin C, antioxidants, and minerals like potassium and magnesium. Tamarind pulp is known for its digestive properties and can relieve issues like indigestion and acidity. Its sweet and sour taste adds a unique flavor profile to dishes like sambar, chutneys, and various rice preparations. 


Indian gooseberry, or amla, is a small, green fruit with a sour taste. It is a powerhouse of vitamin C, antioxidants, and essential minerals. Amla is renowned for its immune-boosting properties, promoting hair and skin health, and aiding in digestion. It is often consumed in the form of amla murabba (sweet preserve), amla candy, or as a juice. 


Fenugreek leaves and seeds, more popularly known as methi, are used in Indian cooking and have a slightly bitter taste. They are an excellent source of fiber, iron, calcium, and vitamins A, C, and B6. Fenugreek is considered beneficial for managing diabetes as it helps improve insulin sensitivity. It aids in digestion, reduces inflammation, and can be consumed in dishes like methi paratha, methi saag, and as a spice in various curries. 

Mustard Greens  

Mustard greens have a bitter and peppery taste and are an integral part of winter dishes in North India, famous by the name of Sarso Da Saag. They are rich in vitamin K, vitamin C, and calcium, supporting bone health and immunity. Sarson ka saag is a traditional dish made by cooking mustard greens along with other leafy vegetables and spices, usually served with makki ki roti (cornmeal flatbread). 


Kokum is a sour fruit commonly used as a souring agent in certain Indian dishes, especially in the coastal regions. It contains hydroxycitric acid, which is believed to aid in weight management. Kokum is also rich in antioxidants, making it beneficial for skin health and overall well-being. It is usually used in the preparation of kokum sherbet or added to fish curries and solkadhi. 

Raw Mango  

Raw mangoes are unripe mangoes with a tangy and sour taste, and are called Kacha Aam and Kairi. They are a rich source of vitamin C and other antioxidants. Raw mangoes are extensively used to prepare refreshing summer drinks like aam panna, as well as various pickles and chutneys. 

Drumstick Leaves  

Drumstick leaves, also known as moringa leaves, have a mild bitter taste and are a nutritional powerhouse. They are packed with iron, calcium, vitamins A, C, and K, and antioxidants. Consuming drumstick leaves can help improve hemoglobin levels, aid digestion, and boost immunity. They are commonly used in the preparation of drumstick leaf curry or added to soups and stews. 

Neem Leaves 

Neem leaves have a very bitter taste and are well-known for their medicinal properties, and are often used in Bengali, Assamese and Odia dishes. They are a rich source of antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. Consuming neem leaves is believed to purify the blood, support liver health, and aid in skin-related issues. Neem leaves are traditionally consumed in the form of neem juice or added to rice preparations. 

Bael Fruit  

Bael fruit is a round fruit with a hard shell and a sweet and sour taste. It is rich in vitamins A, B, and C, and minerals like potassium and magnesium. Bael fruit is known to aid digestion, relieve constipation, and improve gut health. It is usually consumed as bael sherbet, a refreshing drink made from the pulp mixed with water and sweeteners.