Bitter Melon

Quinine-Like Bitterness
Mentioned by Kipling

The house-beams shall fall,
And the Karela, the bitter Karela,
Shall cover it all!
— Kipling, Jungle Book

Bitter Melon

Bitter Melon

Bitter Melon is sometimes called Turia, Kerala or Karela  in English, the last names alluding to its possible Indian origin.

The vegetable is also known as Bitter Gourd or Karela. In botany its name is Momoradica charantia. It is one of more than 40 species of Momordica.

Bitter Melon, described as having a quinine-type bitterness, is prized in the cooking of several Asian cuisines, including China, India and Pakistan, as well as the Philippines.

Stir-Fried Bitter Melon

Stir-Fried Bitter Melon

In China, Bitter Melon is sometimes just stir-fried as it is.

Chinese dish Bitter Melon with Piquant Green Peppes

Bitter Melon with Piquant Green Peppers — Chinese Dish

In the Philippines the vegetable is known as Ampalaya, and is used in an unusual and pleasant salad of that country that combines Bitter Melon with Eggplant. Ampalaya also features in Philippine dishes like Kare-Kare.

Japanese cooks have become interested in Bitter Melon in recent years, importing and adapting recipes from a number of Asian recipes, and the vegetable has enjoyed a minor book in Japan, where it is considered to provide numerous health benefits.

Bitter Melon and Health:  Bitter Melon is popular among the long-lived population of Okinawa Prefecture in Japan. Some recent research has indicated that Bitter Melon has value in both fighting certain kinds of cancer cells, especially on pancreatic cancer cells, which are particularly difficult to kill.  Other research indicates the vegetable can help in managing metabolic syndrome by its effects on glucose metabolism.  Indications are that Bitter Melon can thus help control or manage adult-onset diabetes. 

For Further Information: Science Times, March 12, 2013.

Bitter Melon


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