Uchhe Kumro Bhaja: Bitter Gourd And Pumpkin Stir-fry
Image Credit: Uchhe Kumro Bhaja

Now there's no need to running away from karela since we've brought you a mouthwatering sweet and bitter pumpkin and karela sabji. This stir-fry is not for the faint hearted; it has intense tastes and spices. But once you've tried the mixture of the bitter uchhe (bitter-gourd/karela) blended with the sweet kumro (pumpkin) cooked in sour mustard seed paste, you'll be hooked for life. This old-aged recipe is traditional to Bengal is is being passed down through generations. It's quick, it's nutritious and indeed it's savoury as heaven. 

Bitter gourd has many health benefits.It helps in maintaining blood sugar level, lowers bad cholesterol, protects from cold and flu, cleanses liver, aids in digestion, weight-loss, good for hair and skin and boosts our immune system. The pumpkin as well has a considerable amount of Nutritional values. Loaded with vitamins, fibre and antioxidants, pumpkin is a good source for boosting immunity. 

Detour to History:

We know Karela is ancient. But there is very little history about the Karela or bitter gourd. Bitter gourd originated in Africa. It was identified in Africa as a dry-season staple meal of the Kung hunter-gatherers. It expanded throughout Asia over time. Initially, the wild or semi-domesticated forms gained popularity. It was eventually totally domesticated in Southeast Asia. The health benefits of Karela became well-known around the world as time went. It is frequently used in many forms of cuisine throughout East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia.

Bitter gourd/ Unsplash.com

Despite not being native to India, pumpkins have a long history here. According to dietary historian K.T. Achaya, pumpkins have been a staple of human diet from prehistoric times. Xuan Zang, a Chinese explorer who visited 110 of India's 138 kingdoms between 629 and 645 AD, cited pumpkin, ginger, mustard, and melon. Ibn Battuta discovered that the only thing growing in certain dry river banks next to the Sindh desert were pumpkins. After that  it slowly gained traction in culinary practices.

Ingredients :

1. 20g of mustard oil 

2. 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds 

3. 1 dried red chilli 

4. 50g of Korola (bitter- gourd)

5. 100g of Kumro (pumpkin)

6. 1/4 teaspoon holud 

7. Salt, as per taste 

8. 4g sugar

Procedure for preparation:

1. Chop bitter gourd into long strips

2. Chop pumpkin into long strips (about the same size as the bitter gourd)

3. Heat mustard oil in a pan until it starts to smoke and changes colour to a light yellow 

4. Lower the heat, and add the mustard seeds and dried red chillies to the oil 

5. Once mustard seeds start to splatter add the bitter gourd and fry until it turns light brown 

6. Add pumpkin and turmeric, and fry for another minute

7. Add the salt and the sugar and continue to fry until browned and softened, but not mushy

10. Serve at the beginning of the lunch with a spoon of steamed white rice

This dish is a stir-fry, which is a fantastic method of cooking since it includes heating at a high temperature for a brief period of time, preserving a significant number of nutrients while eliminating any surface-residing germs and microorganisms. So, make this easy to make, tasty to eat and nutritious to health recipe on hot summer days.