One day my father was tending to his garden when the lady next door came up to him and said
” You know that thing of yours in the front is growing bigger and bigger and hanging into my compound. Can you please do something about it?”
If you had heard it in the original accented Hindi which went something like this –
Jara deko to – tumara aage ka bada bada mere garden ke andar aa raha hai. kucch to karo.
you would have probably reacted in much the same way as my father – He told my mother to attend to the matter as he didn’t know what the lady meant by her complaint!
The good neighbour was complaining about the large sized bottle gourd that was hanging over her compound wall instead of staying on my father’s side !
The Bottle Gourd or Lauki , Ghiya or Doodhi as it is commonly known is a long, melon like vegetable , light green on the outside and milky white inside and is popularly used in most Indian cuisines. Apparently it was grown in Africa mainly to be used as a water container (when dry it becomes the perfect bottle)
Many years ago when we had a kitchen garden, my father planted some bottle gourd ( lauki) seedlings on Akshay Tritiya or the day when the earth is closest to the sun. This is supposed to be the hottest day of the year but anything that is started on that day, always lands up being extremely successful. Therefore, apart from being a good day to get married or start a business, it is also the day when farmers plant their seeds for their monsoon crop. At least this is what I was given to understand by the fact that the bottle gourds we got that year were literally 5 feet long! And not only were they long, they were healthy and big too.
The vegetable is said to have medicinal properties and one of my friends used to have in on her table for every meal at her husband’s insistence. I myself am not too fond of this vegetable but today I had an urge to have it so I decided to make some myself.
To make this you will need
- 2 cup peeled and diced bottle gourd
- 1 tspn clarified butter or ghee
- 1/4 tspn cumin seed or zeera
- 2 – 3 curry leaves
- a pinch of asoefetida or hing
- a pinch of turmeric powder
- 4 cashews soaked in water and split into two
- 1 green chilli finely chopped
- 1 tbspn freshly grated coconut
- 1/2 cup milk
- salt to taste
- chopped coriander to garnish ( optional)
Here’s what I did.
I heated the ghee in a pan and then added the cumin seeds. After they sputtered I added the curry leaves, the asoefetida,the turmeric and the chopped vegetable. I then added the soaked cashews, chopped chilli and stirred on high flame before adding the coconut, the milk and lowering the flame. I covered the vegetable with a lid on which I put water so that the vegetable would get the heat from the top as well. When the water from the top evaporated, I knew that the vegetable was done.
I allowed the rest of the milk to dry up so that there was just enough to keep it moist and more and had this with a hot phulka.
Try it! It’s light on the digestion and great on taste with a mild green chilli adding to the delicate flavour of curry leaves, turmeric and cumin.