Bitter melon, known as Kerala in South East Asia, is a unique fruit-vegetable that’s a close relative of squash, zucchini, pumpkins. Though it’s known for it’s strong bitter quality, it’s a staple in Asian cuisines for it’s impressive list of health benefits. Bitter melon is great for anything from reducing cholesterol and blood sugar, as well as a great source for weight loss.
When trying bitter melon for the first time, one thing to remember is that… well… that it’s bitter. I will unapologetically roll my eyes at anyone that tries bitter melon and says “oooh that’s bitter!” The key to making bitter melon is to pair it with something sweet or tangy. This quintessential side dish on any Bangladeshi dinner table has a lot of sweet onion to cut the bitterness and make it oh so delicious.
- 1 large bitter melon, thinly sliced
- 1 large potato, thinly sliced
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2-3 green chilies, slit into halves (you can leave them whole if you don’t want it to be spicy)
- Salt to taste
- 4 tbsp oil, vegetable or olive oil
- Chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)
- Heat oil on a shallow pan on medium heat.
- Once oil is hot, add the green chilies and onions. Sauté until translucent, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add the turmeric, salt, potatoes and bitter melon. Stir well to make sure everything is mixed well.
- Sauté, stirring occasionally, until potatoes and bitter melon is tender, about 15 minutes.
- Turnoff the heat and add cilantro if using.
- It’s key that the potatoes and the melon are cut into the same sizes. You can make whole slices (like the picture) or halve them then slice or make slivers, it really doesn’t matter as long as they are both same size so they take the same cooking time.
- Don’t overcook the melons, they get dry and don’t taste as good.