Eat in Colombo

Karavila Sambol Recipe

Karavila, called bitter gourd in English, is actually much more appetizing than the name implies. In fact, it is one of my favorite vegetables when it is fried and made into a sambol. Here is my mother-in-law, Amma's recipe, passed down from her mother.

1. Go pick three small karavila fruits off the vine in your backyard (or for those of us who live in the U.S., go to an Indian store and buy bitter gourd.)

2. Cut karavila into small pieces "as you like".  Amma's Amma cut them bigger, but she cuts them smaller and it doesn't matter. Don't discard the seeds. The seeds are very good for you; they lower blood sugar.

3. Put the chopped bitter gourd in a frying pan with enough oil to coat and stir fry, a couple of stalks of curry leaves, a bit of turmeric, and some salt water. In Sri Lanka they use coconut oil.

4. Cover, and fry, stirring occasionally until browned.

5. Then add one small chopped red onion, a generous amount of Maldive fish flakes (you can substitute bonito flakes, available dried in the Japanese section of Whole Foods), and red chili flakes to taste, and fry further until onion is browned as well, and karavila is reduced.

6. Remove from heat and serve.  This may be stored for up to 3 days without refrigeration.

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