Baby Doll Bitter Melon
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Baby Doll bitter melons are small in size, averaging 7-10 centimeters in length, and are oblong and narrow in shape with tapered, pointed ends. The thick, bumpy, and waxy skin is rough, covered in many small bumps known as “teeth,” knobs, and vertical ridges. Underneath the surface, the flesh is firm, dense, crisp, and white, encasing a central core filled with white pith and flat seeds. Baby Doll bitter melons are aqueous and crunchy with a bitter, green flavor.
Baby Doll bitter melons are available year-round.
Baby Doll bitter melons, botanically classified as Momordica charantia, are small, edible pods that grow on prolific climbing vines that can reach over one meter in length and are members of the Cucurbitaceae family along with cucumbers. Also known as Bitter gourds, Karela, and Balsam pears, there are many different varieties of small Indian bitter melons found in tropical and subtropical regions across the world. Baby Doll bitter melons are a specific hybrid variety created for its small size, crunchy consistency, and milder flavor. The plant is fast-growing, produces high yields, and is an early maturing variety, favored by locals for its petite size, typically used stuffed in culinary recipes.
Baby Doll bitter melons are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, which help protect the overall health of the body, and also contain folate, potassium, zinc, iron, and fiber to improve digestion.
Baby Doll bitter melons are best suited for cooked applications such as frying, boiling, pickling, baking, stuffing, and sautéing. The seeds and pith are very bitter and should be removed prior to preparing. It is also recommended to soak the melon in salt water for at least twenty minutes or boil slices of the melon in a mixture of white vinegar, turmeric, salt, and sugar to reduce the bitterness. Baby Doll bitter melons are popularly sliced and tossed into soups, stews, and curries, cooked with spices and served with yogurt, or lightly sautéed in stir-fries. In India, the small melons are also prepared in sabzi, which are vegetables coated in gravy or in katty pagarkai, which are bitter melons stuffed with grated coconut, onions, spices, and lentils and then fried. Baby Doll bitter melons can be used in any recipe calling for bitter melon. The sour flavor of the melon is also often paired with rich foods that can cut through the bitter taste such as peanuts or coconut. Baby Doll bitter melons pair well with spices such as cumin, coriander, and chili powder, caramelized onions, lentils, meats such as pork, poultry, beef, and lamb, tofu, garlic, eggplant, okra, string beans, tomatoes, lima beans, and coconut milk. The fruits will keep 4-5 days when stored loosely in a paper or plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.
Bitter melon has been used for centuries in traditional eastern medicine to help aid in digestion. In Ayurvedic medicine, the melon is commonly made into a tea or dried and ground into a powder for use as an aid to deeply cleanse the body from impurities. It is also believed to help balance the blood sugar levels of diabetic patients, protect the pancreas, and help with intestinal parasites and migraines. In India and Thailand, Baby Doll bitter melons are a popular home garden variety as they are easy-to-grow in small spaces, produce high yields, and many parts of the plant including the leaves, gourds, seeds, and stems can be utilized in medicinal and culinary applications.
Bitter melon is native to India, specifically to the northeastern Bengali region and has been growing wild since ancient times. It was then introduced to China during the 14th century and has spread in popularity across Asia. Baby Doll bitter melons were developed by a seed breeder in Thailand. Today Baby Doll bitter melons can be found at local markets in Asia, especially in Thailand, India, Vietnam, and China, and in Southeast Asia.