Wash the bitter gourd and trim the edges. Cut them into small rounds (less than ¼ inch thickness) and remove the seeds and the flesh from the center like below. I took about 250 grams of bitter gourd, and after chopping and cleaning, I got about 180 grams. I did not scrape the spikes that are in the bitter gourd.
Now soak this chopped bitter gourd in 2 cups of hot water for about 30 minutes. Then drain the water and pat the bitter gourd dry. I usually spread it on my kitchen towel and let it dry a bit.
Soak the bitter gourd & prepare the batter:
In a mixing bowl, add the chickpea flour, rice flour, salt, red chili powder, turmeric powder, asafoetida, and jaggery.
Make a thick batter by adding 2 to 3 tbsps of water. If needed, add that extra 1 tbsp; if not, 3 tbsp of water should be sufficient.
Add the chopped bitter gourd to this prepared paste and mix well. Make sure you evenly mix and coat the flour on the bitter gourd.
Air Fry the bitter gourd:
Preheat your air fryer as per the manual. I usually preheat it for 5 minutes at 370 deg F.
After preheating, place the coated bitter gourd in the air fryer tray. Do not keep one on top of the other. Air fry them in batches, and that's what I did.
Air fry the first batch for 8 minutes at 370 deg F and remove it from the air fryer tray and transfer it into a plate.
Now place the remaining bitter gourd into the tray, and air fry them for 8 minutes at 370 deg F. Now transfer this batch into the plate.
Add 2 tsps of oil to the bitter gourd and mix well. Now place the entire bitter gourd into the air fryer tray. Spread it evenly. As they are already pre-cooked, it's ok if some bitter gourds are stacked up.
Now fry the bitter gourd for 6 minutes at 400 deg F. Remove the air fryer tray, shake them once, and air fry again for 4 to 6 minutes at 400 deg F. As we love crispy fries, I fried for 6 minutes.
Air Fryer Timing:
I first fried the bitter gourd chips in batches at 370 deg F for 8 minutes. Then combined the batches, added some oil, and air-fried them for 12 minutes at 400 deg F shaking them once in between. As my quantity was high, I had to work in batches.
As we add salt and jaggery to the flour mix, there might be some water when we air fry the second batch. And that's fine. You can add more rice flour or chickpea flour, but I did not any.
As we add jaggery, the chips' color will be slightly darker; the ones on the top will have a slightly dark color. You can fry them in batches throughout for an even color. But trust me, the color doesn't affect the taste of the bitter gourd.
Jaggery is optional, but it adds a nice flavor and helps to balance out the bitterness. But we are working with bitter gourd, and there will be slight bitterness to these chips.
Adjust the salt and spice as per your taste preference.
You can add some crushed fennel as well for additional flavor.
I did not place the air fryer tray with foil or parchment paper. You can do that.
Do not add more than 4 tbsps of water while making the flour mix. If you feel the water is more, then add some rice flour or besan/chickpea flour. I don't overcoat the bitter gourd with the flour mix.
Depending upon the thickness of bitter gourd slices, the cooking time might slightly vary. After 15 minutes, keep an eye on the bitter gourd and stop the cooking process as soon as it reaches your desired texture preference.