Baked Bittergourd crisps(Baked Pavakkai chips)

‘Arusuvai’ – is the traditional Tamil word denoting the six different tastes in food: Sweet, Salty, Sour, Bitter, Spicy/Pungent, Astringent. It is believed that when you offer a meal it should contain all of these flavors. Most of the items that feature on the traditional banana leaf for weddings, used to cater to all of these tastes. Now, if you consider how many of the tastes we incorporate in our daily food..that is a question. It is quite easy getting to most of the flavors, except bitter and astringent. Now astringent is a very difficult taste…but bitter is quite easy, that is if you love bittergourd. We love bittergourd in our family, and is one of our favorites.

The best way to make it if you are trying this for the first time, or if you are not fond of the bitterness, is crispy fried. But, that just takes away the health benefits of the veggie, adding a bunch of fat. I tried the healthy method of baking it to make it more healthy, but without compromising on the taste. Here is how:

4 medium bittergourd
1 tsp oil
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
non stick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Using a mandoline slicer or V slicer, slice the bittergourd into very thin discs. Place the bittergourd on a foil lined baking sheet, sprayed with non stick cooking spray. Drizzle with the oil, chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt. Mix thoroughly so that the bittergourd is coated well with the spices.

Place the baking sheet in the oven. In about 15 minutes, turn over the bittergourd pieces so that the other side can also be cooked. Let it cook for another 10 minutes. Turn off the oven and turn the broiler on High for 5 minutes. Keep a watchful eye during the 5 minutes or they may burn. When they turn crisp, remove and serve hot!

Verdict: The bittermelon was crispy and crunchy. Perfect combination for curd rice and rasam rice. We didn’t miss the excess oil nor worry about the fact that these were baked than done on the stovetop.

Sending this to ‘Only – Low oil or Low Calorie’ Event, a series started by Pari.

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  1. Arusuvai is a beautiful philosophy for eating. I love bitter and will keep my promise soon to prepare this gourd. Is is bitter like Chinese bitter melon or Italian radicchio, or does it have a particularly unique bitter quality to its taste? I know, try it for myself. : )

    (P.S. – The only naturally astringent food I’ve ever had is a certain variety of persimmon – quite puckery.)

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