September 28, 2017

Bottle Gourd Recipes From Around India

The inspiration for the recipe comes from a friend of mine who has a very good green thumb, and hence has a good harvest of Indian vegetables even in our part of the world where the summer is very short. I do get a small share of her harvest :-), and last week she gave me a large Lauki (Bottle gourd) with a challenge to try recipes using it, knowing that it is not a very common vegetable from where I come from originally. So I decided to go the full circle with recipes across all of India and picked the ones that I found interesting, one from each part of India. Check it out, each of them brings out a different flavor with the Lauki. 

Lauki Dal (Bottle gourd with Moong Dal)
This is from the North of India, a variant of dal with veggies. I just prefer to make this with moong dal, but can be substituted with masoor dal, or any other lentil of your choice. Vary cooking time accordingly. 

  • Moong Dal - 1/2 cup
  • Lauki - 1 cup (chopped fine)
  • Tomato - 1/2 cup  (chopped)
  • Garlic - 1 Tbsp (minced)
  • Ginger - 1 Tbsp  (minced)
  • Green chilly - 1-2 (chopped fine)
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • Cooking oil - 1 Tbsp (I used avocado oil)
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Chopped coriander leaves - for garnish
  • Cook Dal with 2 cups of water.
  • Heat oil in a pan, add cumin seeds. When they splutter, add ginger, garlic, green chilly and saute till slightly golden.
  • Add tomato and lauki and cook till tomato is soft. Add everything to the cooked dal along with salt and turmeric powder. Simmer over medium heat till lauki is cooked well. 
  • Adjust seasoning and switch off. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
  • Enjoy!!

Handvo w/ Lauki (Steamed channa dal-rice cakes with bottle gourd)  
This is from the West of India. It is loosely based on dhokla recipes and the description of handvo I have heard from my Gujarati friends. This can be made with just channa dal flour omitting the rice flour. It can also be made by soaking channa dal and rice, and grinding for the batter instead of using the flour. Bottle gourd can be substituted or supplemented with other vegetables too.

  • Channa dal flour (Besan) - 1/2 cup 
  • Rice flour - 1/2 cup
  • Coarse rice or channa powder - 2 Tbsp (Substitute with rava/semolina) 
  • Yogurt - 1/2 cup 
  • Sea salt as per taste
  • Lauki (skinned and grated) - 1/2 cup 
  • Ginger - 1 Tbsp (minced)
  • Garlic - 1 Tbsp (minced)
  • Green chilly - 1-2 (minced)
  • Baking soda - 1/4 tsp 
  • Citric acid - 1/8 tsp (substitute with 1 tsp of lemon juice)
  • Cooking oil - 1 Tbsp (I used avocado oil)
  • Sesame seeds - 2 Tbsp (toasted till red) 

  • Mix besan, rice flour and coarse rice flour with yogurt and salt to form a very thick batter. (Add 1/4 cup water if needed to form the batter). Keep it aside overnight to ferment.
  • Once ready to make add grated lauki, ginger, garlic  and mix well green chilly.
  • Get the steamer ready, grease dhokla plate or any plate or cake tin that you can use inside a steamer with coconut oil or ghee. 
  • Just before adding the batter to the steamer plate, mix in the baking soda and citric acid and stir in one direction.
  • Pour the batter into greased steamer plates, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and steam on medium-high heat for 10-12 minutes.
  • Optionally add a tempering of cumin/fennel/mustard seeds in your choice of cooking oil on top of the steamed cakes. Cut into desired shapes and serve warm. 
  • Enjoy!!

Lau Besara (Bottle Gourd in Mustard Gravy) 
This one is from the East of India, from Orissa. Recipe adapted from here. This is first time I am making something Indian that has mustard gravy, and I am glad I did. Pleasantly surprised with the flavor profile :-). 

  • Louki (lau) 1 cup (diced into cubes)
  • Potato - 1 medium cut into small pieces
  • Green Chillies  - 1-2  chopped into pieces
  • Cumin, black seed, fennel, mustard and fenugreek- a pinch each (Panch-phutana spice mix)
  • Mustard Paste - 1 batch ( grind, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds and 2-3 cloves of garlic)
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Cooking oil - 2 tsp (I used avocado oil) 
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander leaves for garnish

  • In a saucepan add lauki, potato, turmeric powder salt and 1/2 cup of water, and cook covered.
  • When vegetables are almost done, add mustard paste and continue cooking till the vegetables are cooked well.
  • Heat oil in a shallow pan, add the panch-phutana spices and let them splutter, add green chilies and fry for a few seconds and temper over the cooking vegetables.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and enjoy!!

Sorakkaya Kootu (Bottle gourd w/ Channa Dal) 
This is from my part if India, the South of India, specifically from namma Tamil Nadu. Kootu is a  simple every day dish in any Tamil household, and can be made with a variety of vegetables. 

  • Channa Dal - 1/2 cup (soaked overnight)
  • Lauki/bottle gourd - 1 cup (diced into cubes)
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Sea salt - as per taste
  • Urud dal - 1 tsp
  • Coriander seeds - 1 tsp
  • Red chilly - 1-2 
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
  • Grated coconut - 1/2 cup 
  • Coconut oil - 1 Tbs
  • Mustard seed - 1 tsp
  • Urud dal - 1/2 tsp
  • Red chilly - 1 
  • Start cooking drained channa dal with 2 cups of water, turmeric and salt.
  • Once the channa dal is cooked half way thru, add bottle gourd cubes and continue cooking.
  • Meanwhile dry roast urud dal in a pan, once it is red, add coriander seeds, red chilly, and fenugreek seeds toast for a minute or so till nice aroma comes. 
  • Add toasted spices, along with cumin and coconut into a blender jar and grind to a fine paste. Use some cooking water from the vegetables as needed for grinding. 
  • Once the vegetables are done well, add the ground masala and simmer for a couple of minutes, adjust seasoning and switch off.
  • Heat coconut oil, pop add mustard/urud/red chilly and when mustard pops, temper over the gravy.
  • Server warm with rice or as is as a hearty stew.
  • Enjoy!!

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