What Is Bitter Melon?
Bitter Melon (aka Cerassee, karela, African Cucumber, Bitter Apple, Bitter Cucumber, Bitter Gourd) is a vine that grows in tropical or subtropical regions of the world, its leaves and fruit are known for medicinal and culinary uses. Both the ripe and unripe fruit are used in dishes. The unripe fruit is used to make bitter melon juice and the leaves are both used as herbal medicine.
Bitter melon is popular in South American, the Caribbean, Southern Asia, parts of Africa and Indian cuisines. This fruit is sold in Asian supermarkets here in the United States of America. They look like a bumpy cucumber with a bitter taste that I somehow love.
Where To Buy Bitter Melon
Bitter Melon fruit is sold in Indian, Chinese supermarkets here in the USA. The tea bag and juice are sold in Indian, West Indian grocery stores and even on Amazon: Bitter Melon Capsules, Bitter Melon Tea Bags, Bitter Melon Juice. Bitter Melon Seeds.
How To Select Bitter Melon
Choose a bitter melon that is not dark green but pale green in color, The more mature the bitter melon, the less green and bitter it will be.
Growing up in Jamaica, bitter melon was known as ceras, we had a variety that yielded smaller fruits that were grown wild throughout the island. We grew up drinking the leaves of the plant as a blood cleanser. We made bitter melon tea with the leaves.
As children, we ate the ripened bitter melon fruit that was very sweet, unlike the bitter unripened fruit. I first saw the large bitter melon variety when I moved to England and started cooking this unripened fruit in bitter melon recipes years after I moved to the USA and was living in New Jersey.
Bitter Melon Benefits
This unfamiliar vegetable is packed with a powerhouse of nutrition, it contains iron, calcium, phosphorus, vitamins A, C, B1, and B3, and, of course, fiber.
It has blood glucose-lowering properties so people use bitter melon for diabetes and is a known mild laxative which may be helpful in a weight loss program.
It contains an anti-tumor agent. It has been found to be helpful for psoriasis, inhibit HIV infection and menstrual irregularities. It is used in countries such as Panama and Columbia for preventing and treating malaria.
How To Cook Bitter Melon Potato Curry
To Cook Bitter Melon Potato Curry, wash bitter melon, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out all the seeds. Chop the melon into 1/4-inch cubes. Add salt and set aside for 5 minutes(this helps remove bitterness). Rinse bitter melon pieces, drain and set aside.
Heat oil or water in a large saucepan. Saute onion and garlic until onion is soft, Add spices. Stir in bitter melon pieces, potatoes and stir to coat.
Add coconut milk, water, thyme, bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover saucepan, cook for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir in sea salt and remove from heat.
Make Your Own Curry Powder
My favorite curry powder to use for this recipe is the Chief brand or make my own:
Curry Powder Recipe
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
Add the above ingredients in place of store-bought curry powder.
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This recipe was first posted July 20, 2011
- 121 kcal / 506 kJ
- 6 g
- 2 g
- 16 g
- 4 cups potatoes, chopped
- 1 medium bitter melon, deseeded and chopped
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons curry powder, *See notes about curry powder
- 1 sprig fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Cilantro leaves for garnish
- 10 min
- 25 min
- Ready in:
- 35 min
Wash bitter melon, cut in half, discard seeds and soft tissues, then chop into small pieces. Add salt and set aside for 5 minutes(this helps remove bitterness). Rinse bitter melon pieces, drain and set aside.
Heat oil in a large saucepan. Saute onion and garlic until onion is soft, about 4 minutes. Add Curry powder or turmeric, coriander, cumin, cardamom. Stir in bitter melon pieces, potatoes and stir to coat.
Add coconut milk, water, thyme, bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover saucepan, cook for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir in sea salt and remove from heat. Garnish with cilantro leaves.