Bitter gourd is a staple vegetable for appa (he eats it almost 3-4 times a week). It would be a simple saute with little chilli powder. But Amma makes sure we too eat it atleast once in a week. She makes several version to send this wonderful veggie inside us but this particular dish is always a hit. Even during our childhood days we never refused to eat it this way.
The onions add a balance to the bitterness and the tamarind tanginess makes it more interesting to eat it. Even though its made as a side dish I like to have it mixed with piping hot rice with a papad.
Bitter gourd – 1 cup (seeds removed and chopped)
Onion – 1/2 cup (chopped)
Sambar podi / Chilli powder – 1 tea spoon
Turmeric – 1 pinch
Salt – 1/2 tea spoon (or as per taste)
Peanut oil – 1.5 T spoon
Tamarind – 1 gooseberry sized soaked in 1/4 cup of water
Squeeze the tamarind after 15-20 minutes of soaking and filter it. Reserve the extract. Heat the peanut oil in a thick bottomed vessel or a non-stick pan. Once it is hot add the chopped onions and saute till they turn pink. Add the chopped bitter gourd and saute for 10 minutes in low flame. Now add the sambar podi / chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt and the tamarind extract and mix well. Adjust salt at this stage. Keep cooking in low flame stirring often to ensure the curry is not stikcing to the pan. Let the entire mix be semi-dry. Switch off the stove and serve with hot piping rice.