Dahi ke karele, which tastes great with phulka, chawal and dal, is a delicacy tailor-made for the monsoon

Bitter delight

Bitter, and usually derided, the karela is a vegetable with many charms. It promises relief to the diabetics from sugar problem and is a time-tested blood purifier. Many are addicted to it in either the ‘sweet and sour’ — tamarind, gur-laced recipe or prefer it deep-fried with onions. We have enjoyed it with boneless chicken in khurchan (offered to us by Chef Sudhir Sibbal long ago) and maintain that the Awadhi/Hyderabadi renderings in dum or packed with chooran have much to commend themselves. Like most items from the domain of nawab and nizam, these overdo the nazaqat and nafasat bit and poor karela loses its unique identity.

To be honest, we have long wished to have a lighter presentation. Our wish was granted recently when an innovative host treated us to dahi ke karele — a delicacy tailor-made for monsoon. You may happily increase the quantity of dahi according to taste. It tastes great with phulka, chawal and dal. Garnish with chopped tomatoes, if desired.

Dahi ke Karele

Karela (not too large or ripe) 250 g
Onion,Tomato (medium-sized) 1 each
Dahi (thick, whisked) ¼ cup
Cumin seeds ½ tsp
Dhania powder 1tsp
Sambhar powder ½ tsp
Oil 1tbsp
Salt to taste

Scrape, slice karela in thin round slices. Sprinkle over with salt and place on a plate to weep for an hour. Drain and wash well. Heat oil in a pan. When it reaches smoking point, reduce heat to medium-low and add cumin seeds and when these begin to crackle, add tomatoes and onions along with powdered spices. Stir-fry for a minute. Add karela and cook covered on low heat for 5-7 minutes.

Reduce heat to simmer and pour in the whisked dahi mixed with a teaspoon of water in a slow steady stream stirring continuously to avoid curdling. Cook for`A0about two minutes and serve hot or at room temperature.