New ingredient: 5 things I learned about keralla

May 13, 2009

KerallaIt doesn’t happen often, but on Saturday I found an ingredient at my local No Frills that is not in the Food Lover’s Companion. The odd-looking veggie pictured above was piled high at the entrance to the produce section and labelled Indian Keralla. Intrigued, I bought two and took them home to investigate. After all, at 99 cents a pound, you can’t inject excitement into a rainy Saturday any less expensively!

Here’s what I learned about Indian Keralla:

  1. Don’t take a bite of the raw veggie — it’s bitter and nasty!
  2. The English names for this veggie are Bitter Melon (which is in the Food Lover’s Companion), Bitter Gourd, Warty Melon or Balsam Pear.
  3. There is a Chinese variety of bitter melon that is similar but milder in flavour and it has a yellow hue.
  4. Keralla should be blanched or salted before being used in recipes to curb its bitterness.
  5. To use, slice the melon in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds and discard. Slice the green outer layer and sprinkle with salt and drain in a colander. Rinse and pat dry and then add to curries and stir fries that feature strong flavours.

Have you used Keralla in your cooking? If so, I’d love to hear some of your tips!