Sweet and hot bitter melon and sardine curry

Sweet and hot bitter melon and sardine curry

Sweet and hot bitter melon and sardine curry

This is yet another dish from “Operation Wind-down”, where I aim to use up the last of my food reserves before my impending house move.

This time, I had a tin of bitter melon to mess about with, an ingredient which usually plays nicely together with fish. I also had fish in – tinned sardines. Hmmmm.

Playing a hunch, a quick visit to Google revealed that, yes, several fellow maniacs had indeed paired sardines and bitter melon in, of all things, a curry.

To balance the bitterness of the melon, I thought that a sweet, hot sauce might fit the bill. Looking at the bananas I had on the kitchen counter-top, inspiration struck. I would give the sauce sweetness not only from bananas, but also from ground almonds and dessicated coconut, which would give the final sauce a bit of body, too.

As I started to prepare the ingredients, I realised that this was basically an experiment, a bit of a culinary shot in the dark, if you will, and one that simply might not work very well at all. In any case, given my chosen ingredients, either a triumph or a tragedy was more than likely to result in a considerable degree of stress being placed on the old digestive system. Quack! More tea, Vicar?

As it turned out, my worst fears were completely unfounded. Not only was the finished dish not terrible in the slightest, it actually turned out to be very, very nice indeed, a real “keeper”, in fact. Definately one that will be making its way on to the Great Table once I am safely relocated back to the Home Kitchen.


Serves 2 at a push, maybe.


  • 3 spring onions, whites sliced thinly, greens set aside for later
  • 2 good, hot chillies, finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp black cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp onion seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tbsp dried curry leaves
  • 1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1 tsp dried coriander leaves
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 2 medium bananas, sliced
  • about 100g of tinned bitter melon, sliced
  • 2 120g cans sardines in brine, drained
  • about 3 tbsp almonds
  • about 3 tbsp dessicated coconut
  • coconut oil for frying
  • hot water as required


  • Heat up a few tablespoons of coconut oil in a large non-stick pan.
  • When the oil is hot, add the black cumin seeds, the onion seeds, the mustard seeds, and the dried curry leaves to the pan. Stir fry for a few seconds, and when that fantastic aroma clouts you one in the hooter, add the sliced spring onions and the chillies to the pan.
  • Fry for a few minutes, and then add the garlic. Fry for couple of minutes more.
  • Add the coriander powder, the turmeric powder, the ginger powder, the smoked Spanish paprika, and the hot chilli powder. Fry for a few minutes. Watch that the mixture doesn’t start to stick – add a splash of hot water if it threatens to do so.
  • Add the bananas, stirring well. If needed add a splash of hot water to keep things nice and fluid. Continue to cook until the bananas start to break down – encourage this by gently mashing them with the back of your wooden spoon.
  • Once the bananas have cooked down into the sauce, add a fair old bit of hot water to give the sauce a bit of volume, and then cook for about 5 minutes or so.
  • Add the ground almonds and the dessicated coconut. Cook for a further 5 minutes, adding more water if the sauce threatens to be too thick, or more almonds / coconut if it threatens to be too runny – you may have to play around here in order to get the consistency you’re after.
  • Lastly, add the bitter melon and the drained sardines. Cook just long enough to warm through.
  • Serve, garnished with the green parts from the spring onions, finely sliced.

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