Blog

The Bitter Melon Truth

“Why so blue, Red?” Spinach asked ironically.

“They called me a vegetable wannabe,” replied a less-than-cheery Cherry Tomato, pointing to a group of gourds nearby.

“Ignore them,” Rhubarb tartly advised. “They’re just Bitter Melons.”

You’ve probably come across them at the farmers’ market - strange produce that look like cucumbers with a bad case of warts. Perhaps you stopped to examine them, wondering how they would taste. Maybe you even asked the friendly vendor what they were, only to turn away at the word ‘bitter’, leaving behind those lonely knobby gourds for another curious shopper to find.

The unusual vegetable is known by various names, such as balsam pear, bittergurke, caraille, and goya, but none is more appropriate than bitter melon. Acrid and sharp on the tongue, Momordica charantia is the misfit in a plant family that counts watermelons and cantaloupes among its members. Unlike its sweeter cousins, however, it contains momordicines, some of the most bitter compounds found in food, which give it that characteristically astringent flavor. Of the five tastes, which include sweet, sour, salty, and savory (umami), bitter is the least appealing to many palates, and for good reason: it is Mother Nature’s warning signal to beware eating potentially poisonous plants. But thanks to intrepid early diners who managed to get past the harsh taste and confirm that it is indeed edible, we now know that bitter melon may be more elixir than poison.

This acerbic gourd is a common and very popular food throughout the world, particularly in Asia, where it is valued for its medicinal qualities as well as its bracing flavor. Karela, as it is known in India, is used in the ancient holistic healing science of Ayurveda to balance the body’s doshas, or constitution, and to treat a variety of ailments ranging from digestive upset to skin irritations to bacterial and viral infections. In the Philippines, bitter melon is called ampalaya and is touted as a diabetes treatment; a 2007 study by the Philippine Department of Health found that eating its leaves results in a hypoglycemic effect, or lowering of blood sugar, while results from a joint Australian/Chinese research showed that its compounds help improve glucose uptake. Currently, bitter melon extract is being studied for potential anti-cancer properties. However, the same compounds that relieve illness in some people may cause complications in others – they can exacerbate hypoglycemia in diabetics already taking blood sugar-lowering medications, while pregnant women are strongly advised not to consume bitter melon as it may cause bleeding and premature contractions.

Still, bitter melon is full of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, and beta carotene, to rival the amounts found in such healthful vegetables as broccoli and spinach . . . if you can get past the mouth-puckering taste. To untrained taste buds, bitter melon is nearly inedible in its raw state, but its pungent flavor can be softened with some simple tips on choosing and preparing the gourds.

 Choosing Bitter Melon

  • You may see two kinds of bitter melon at the market: the ‘Chinese’ variety is long with a light green, pebbled texture, while the ‘Indian’ type is shorter, darker green and covered with spiky knobs. Any difference in bitterness between these types may be negligible to anyone not used to its flavor, so feel free to use either. However, the Chinese variety may be more common in American markets.
  • Bitter melon is a subtropical vegetable that grows best in hot, humid weather, so watch out for it at the farmers’ market in July and August.
  • Choose specimens that are firm and light green - the darker the color, the younger and more bitter it is.

Preparing Bitter Melon

  • Bitter melon does not have to be peeled. Just rinse well to remove any dirt and pat dry.
  • Cut in half lengthwise, then use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and scrape off the inner white pith.
  • Slice crosswise at a slight angle to ¼-inch thickness, then place in a bowl. Cover with fresh water and add 2-3 tablespoons of salt (rock salt, preferably). Let sit for about 15 to 20 minutes and drain just before cooking.

 

Bitter Melon with Egg and Tomatoes

When I polled friends and family in Manila about how best to extract the bitterness from ampalaya, I received a different answer each time. From squeezing the slices after soaking, to not stirring while cooking, each method was declared the best. Honestly, there is no way to extract the astringent flavor entirely, but don’t let that deter you. Though it may be an acquired taste, you just might find its assertiveness to be a pleasant change from more mild-mannered vegetables. This recipe is a favored preparation in the Philippines and is a quick, simple showcase for bitter melon at its tastiest.

Ingredients

2 bitter melons, prepared as above

1 small onion, sliced thinly

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 plum or Roma tomatoes, chopped

1 egg, lightly beaten

Water

Salt (preferably rock salt)

Cooking oil

  • Drain the bitter melon slices, place in a wok or large sauté pan and add fresh water to cover. Over medium high heat, bring to a gentle boil and cook for about 1-2 minutes. Drain slices in a colander and set aside.
  • Return wok or pan to the burner and heat a generous tablespoon of cooking oil. Add onion and garlic, and stir-fry until they just begin to brown. Add chopped tomatoes and continue stir-frying until they begin to break down. Pour one cup of water and add a tablespoon of salt to the pan, then bring to a low simmer.
  • Add bitter melon slices and stir well until liquid comes back to a gentle simmer. Pour beaten egg over the vegetables and quickly mix in so that the egg cooks in fluffy bits throughout. Cook until the bitter melon slices are tender but still a bit firm to the bite. Serve with steamed rice.

 

Tracey Paska lives, eats and writes in Manila, Philippines, where she revels in the fact that she can wear flip-flops outdoors in January. When she's not exploring Manila's foodscape, she freelances for a national food magazine and writes about the complex and fascinating connections between food, culture, and society on her blog Tangled Noodle.

Comments

I am alive today because Dr.Zabaza helped me to recover from the pains that i was going through, My name is Elena from Chicago and i am very happy to express my appreciation to Dr.Zabaza for helping me to get my husband back to me. I was finally able to contact Dr.Zabaza who helped me to get my husband, I am glad to drop Dr.Zabaza details which are: zabaza.logan@yahoo.com or call +2348182620374 for urgent help to get your life partner back

Greetings to you all, i am here today on this forum giving a life testimony on how Dr Okeyto has cured me from HIV Virus, i have been stocked in bondage with this virus for almost 5years now, i have tried different means to get this sickness out of my body i also heard there was no cure to the virus, all the possible ways i tried did not work out for me,i was using ARV hoping that i was going to be cure but my CD4 count was going down and down i do have the faith that i was going to be cured one day, and i was a strong believer in God and also in miracles, One day as i was on the internet i came across some amazing testimonies concerning how Dr Okeyto has cured different people from various sickness with his Herbal Herbs Medicine, they all advised we contact Dr Okeyto for any problem, with that i had the courage and i contacted Dr Okeyto i told him about my Sickness, He told me not to worry that he was going to prepare some Herbal  Herbs Medicine for me, after some time in communication with Dr Okeyto, he finally prepared for me some herbs which he sent to me and he also gave me prescriptions on how to take them, My good friends after taking Dr Okeyto Herbs for some weeks i started to experience changes in me and from there, I noticed my Herpes Virus was no longer in my body, as i have also gone for test, Today i am fit and healthy to live life again, I am so happy for the good work of Dr Okeyto in my life, Friends if you are having any type of disease problem kindly email Dr Okeyto on {dr.okeytoherbalcure@gmail.com} or relate with him on his phone call him on +2349050141440/whats-app him ,,him is a great herbalist that treats and cure all manner of diseases Contact him thanks for your audience and i hope you find help like i did  for what he has done for me, i am posting to this forum saying if you are into similar problem  or have any kind of disease problem you can contact him......Thanks DR.OKEYTO for giving me back the life that i thought i have lost.....God Bless you Sir

 

Be careful here nobody can help you here or even suggest how you can get your ex or love back,any testimonies of most spell caster here must be ignore.because most of them are scam i mean real scam which i was a victim and i got ripped of thousands of dollars because i was so anxious to get my wife back after she left me for over 1 years and 7 months with my 10 years old daughter,i have applied to 13 different spell caster here and all to no avail they all ask  for same thing send your name your ex name address and picture phone number etc which i did over and over again and most of them were from west Africa until i saw a post about Dr Zack Balo and i decided to gave him my last trail.he ask me four things my real name,my ex and my ex mother name and $200 and said my ex will come back in 3days, i have paid over $8000 on spell casting and nothing have work for me after 3days i was thinking about how much i have lost so far so i said let me give him a try so i called him again and send my real name,my ex and my ex mother name and the $200 because i swear it was my last try so i was waiting as he told me to wait till next 3 days and i could not sleep those night because i really love my wife and want her back at 8pm the third day i saw my wife on line on face book and she said hi at first i was shock because she never talk with me for the past a year and 7 month now i did not reply again she said are you there? i quickly reply yes and she said can we see tomorrow i said yes and she went off-line i was confused i try to chat her again but she was no more on line i could not sleep that night as i was wondering what she is going to say, by 7.am the next morning she gave me a miss call i decided not to call back as i was still on shock again she call and i pick she said can we see after work today i said yes so she end the call immediately i got off work she call me and we meet and now we are back again i called Dr Zack Balo the next day thanking him for what he has done in fact i still call him and thank him as my life was not complete without my wife please be careful here i have been scam thousands of dollars if you want a true love spell then contact Dr Zack Balo on his email address wiseindividualspell@gmail.com or call him his phone number +2348078927387.

 

 

 

Hello everyone here in this forum i am so glad that i have this great opportunity to come out here and share my testimony on how Dr idahosa was able to cure me totally from Hiv disease, i have been suffering from this Disease for approximately 4 Years now, i have tried various ways to get rid of this Virus out of my body, i have also purchase for Medical treatment from my doctor but they all failed, sometime back now while i was browsing the Internet i found some good quote concerning Dr idahosa Herbal Medicine, and how he has been using it to save souls from Different Disease including Cancer, someone also said she was been cured of Hiv from his medicine, and they gave out his contact details in case anyone needs his help, i decided to contact Dr idahosa and i told him about my Hiv illness he told me not to worry that he was going to send me his herbal medicine all i was to do is to send him my personal details and also my home address so he can post the Medicine to me, actually i did all that was required by this Man, i took the medicine just as prescribe by him, he told me to go for check up in the hospital which i did and to my great surprise my Doctor told me the Hiv Virus was no longer there, i even went to other hospital for better confirmation its was still the same thing, Today i am so happy that i am Negative again, Dr idahosa has given me reasons to share tears of Joy, you can reach to Dr idahosa on his email address at ( dridahosasolutioncenter@gmail.com) or call him on +2348134261542

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <cite> <ul> <ol> <li> <p> <b> <em>
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.