Uchche Bhaja is bitter gourd fries from a Bengali Kitchen. These are a delicacy of Bengali’s, even though it is bitter.
Uchche is bitter gourds in Bengali and Bhaja is fries. The Uchche Bhaja are crisp Bitter Gourd fries . It is a simple, fuss-free recipe that needs just 20 minutes from start to finish.
Bengali Cuisine has elaborate lunch and dinner meals. All meals are served course-wise. I suppose Bengali’s are the only Indian community that serve a six-course meal. They start with bitters and end with sweets, enjoying all flavours.
These bitters work as palette cleansers and prepare the tongue to savour the rest of the meal. Vegetables like Bitter Gourds, herbs like Neem have high medicinal values and these are the starters of any Bengali meal.
How to prepare Uchche / Bitter Gourds
If I have to prepare bitter gourds in my Sindhi kitchen, I like to remove most of the bitterness by marinating the gourds. The Bengalis retain this bitterness. They cut the uchche into roundels, just like chips. They drop them into the water and let them soak for 10 minutes. Drain the water, give a gentle squeeze and the Uchche are ready to fry.
Frying the Uchche
Oil is brought to a smoking point. The bitter gourd roundels are then fried in hot oil. At first, keep the flame high for two minutes. thereafter on medium flame, till they change the colour. Finally, reduce the flame to make them crisp. Frying them in Mustard Oil will give these fries an authentic taste, however, if you do not like the flavour, use any cooking oil. After all, it is all about enjoying a dish to your own taste.
Seasoning the Uchche
Salt and turmeric powder are the only seasonings we need for these Bhajas. For variation red chilly powder or Kasundi paste are good options. Though the simple fries taste best with salt and turmeric.
Health Benefits of Bitter Gourds
They are high in nutrition and are loaded with vitamins and minerals.
Boosts weight loss as Bitter gourd is low in calories, fat and carbohydrates.
Aids digestion and is an excellent source of dietary fibre.
Great for diabetics as it has anti-diabetic properties.
Try these Uchche Bhaja, which are a part of my Bengali Vegetarian Thali. This is my post under the alphabet U, for the A to Z series where I am posting all Thali Recipes. Try the South Indian Karela Chips or Sindhi Style Karela and I assure you, you will start loving Bitter Gourds.
Here are the recipes under the A – Z series of Thali Recipes –
Uchche Bhaja / Bitter Gourd Fries
- Kadai / Wok / Pan
- 200 gms Bitter Gourds
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- Oil to fry
- Cut uchchhe or bitter gourd into thin roundels and soak in water for 10 mins. Drain water and keep bitter gourd aside.
- Heat mustard oil or regular cooking oil to smoking point in heavy bottomed pan.
- Add sliced bitter gourd and fry for 2 mins on high flame.
- Turn down the flame and fry on medium flame until it changes colour to dark .
- Add salt, turmeric .
- Mix lightly and cook until everything is incorporated.