Uchhe-kumro bhaja, or bitter gourd stir-fried with pumpkin, is an appetiser that is eaten mixed with a spoon of rice before the Bengali lunch begins. This uchhe- or korola-kumro bhaja is one of the easier 'teto' dishes to start with when introducing someone to bitters for the first time, since uchhe is not as bitter as, say, neem leaves, and the sweetness of pumpkin makes the bitterness less noticeable.
- 20 g mustard oil
- ¼ tsp mustard seeds
- 1 pc dried red chilli
- 50 g ucche/korola (bitter gourd)
- 100 g kumro (sweet pumpkin)
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- 2 g salt
- 4 g sugar
- Cut bitter gourd into long strips, about 5-mm wide. Cut pumpkin into long strips about the same size as the bitter gourd.
- Heat mustard oil in a pan until it starts to smoke and changes colour to a light yellow.
- Lower the heat, and add the mustard seeds and dried red chillies to the oil.
- Once mustard seeds start to splatter add the bitter gourd and fry until it turns light brown (about 3 minutes).
- Add pumpkin and turmeric, and fry for another minute.
- Add the salt and the sugar now and continue to fry until browned and softened, but not mushy.
- Serve at the beginning of the lunch with a spoon of steamed white rice.