New Food – Indian Bitter Melon (Karela)

So there I stood in the produce aisle looking at a strange vegetable that I have not seen before in my life much less bought, cooked or eaten. The sign said “Indian Bitter Melon.” I thought it kind of looked like a cute, green mouse. (Ok, my imagination on overload there.)

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I went to a quiet spot and looked it up on my phone and found a blog post by a lady who seems to be doing something similar to what I’m doing with new food. She explained that she mixed it with onions and some spices and sautéed it in her frying pan.

Her final take on it? The bitter melon tastes bitter. And although she tasted a lot of strange food in her life, she couldn’t handle this one.

But I bought one.

I brought it home and researched it further. The overwhelming take on it  – that it was an acquired taste and very, very bitter. One man on youtube said to soak it in a bowl of salt water for awhile to get some of that bitter taste out. (Though the original blogging lady said she did that and it helped NOT at all.)

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One cool thing I learned is that bitter melon lowers blood sugar and is considered a healing aid for many physical ailments such as diabetes. The melon is also recommended to cancer patients, to detox your liver and on and on … So bitter, but healthy.

The first thing the Internet told me to do was cut the melon in half lengthwise. You can also scrape off the outside at this time which is actually kind of fun. I did it in the sink over the garbage disposal and the little bumpy things kind of popped off.  (I’m sure they have a name, but I have never heard anyone talk about the bumpy things on an Indian melon so have no idea what that name might be.) You then scoop out the middle which is a white substance with seeds in it.

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The next instruction is to cut the remaining vegetable into slices.

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Different recipes said to sauté the melon in different combinations of onions, spices, etc., so I kind of made up my own recipe. The reason is looks brown is because of the chicken broth and several spices.

DSC_0051Of all the new foods I have tried this year, I was most hesitant to eat this one because of   the “acquired taste” label and the “Yes, it’s very bitter” evaluation.

But I was brave and took a little bite.

And it was … (drumroll) … bitter.

However, this is the thing. I kind of got this cloud of bitterness in my mouth, but it didn’t taste bad. I don’t even know how to explain it. Like celery that was overripe. (Not sure I’ve ever had overripe celery, but …)  I could handle this taste better than some other things I’ve eaten in my life like the piece of wheat germ candy someone gave me once that made me gag for the rest of the day. The melon didn’t leave any kind of aftertaste and I didn’t have the urge to spit it out or anything.

So I ate some more of the melon.

My final take on it is – I will not be buying it, fixing it or eating it again …

Unless, for medical reasons, my doctor told me to … and then I could do it without too much resistance.

So – 3 out of 10 (but medically sounds like a 10 out of 10).

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