Friday, October 9, 2009

Bitter Gourds - Another quick result with little effort

Looks like the Gods favor the Gourds. Like my experience with the Ridge Gourd, it has been a little effort - quick and good results with the Bitter Gourds (Scientific Name : Momordica Charantia L.) . The Bitter Gourd is known as Karela in most parts of India and as Paavakkai in Tamil.

I bought a handful of seeds for 5 Rs. (Indian Rupees). Planted it in a part of the kitchen garden. The vines started growing. This vine has a slender hairy stem with numerous branches and dense foliage. The plant grows up to 6 feet tall and develops small, yellow flowers both male and female, on the same plant. The fruits are green usually oblong, has an irregular surface with warts and 8-10 vertical ridges. When ripe, the fruits turn yellowish orange in colour.
The bitter gourd thrives in hot and humid climates

Regular watering with plenty of water is essential for its growth. Flowers will start appearing in 5-6 weeks and fruition will occur between two to four months. Mature fruits are ready to be picked within3 months from planting and they will be light green and juicy with white flesh but bitter. Pick the fruits every 2-3 days when they are still at the tender stage. Regular picking is important as fruits will become more bitter as they mature and it can also hamper the growth of new fruits.
Leave some fruits to reach full maturity if they have to be reserved for subsequent crops. When fully mature, the fruits will break open on its own and release brown or white seeds which can be collected.

Nutritional Value :
44 kcal, 5.6 g protein, 290 mg calcium, 5 mg iron, 5.1 mg vitamin A, 170 mg vitamin C per 100 g serving. Its a miralce cure for diabetes.
Its nutrient content surpasses all other vegetables. Bitter gourd contains Vitamin A, B1, B2, and C. It also contains minerals like calcium, phosphorus, iron, copper and potassium. It purifies blood, enhances digestion, and stimulates the liver. It is an excellent natural source of insulin. The skin, seeds and the vegetable on the whole can be consumed in many forms. Diabetics are recommended to drink the juice of tender bitter gourds to keep their sugar levels in check. It can be stuffed with potato masala and shallow fried. You can even grill it. It can be cut into thin slices and fried like chips with salt and chilly powder. The skin can be washed, fried well and ground with coconut, green chilly and tamarind to make chutney. In whole, bitter gourd plays a vital role in keeping the sugar under control for a diabetic.

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