A simple quick homey recipe; perfect when the feet are tired and the heart craves for a light and fresh home cooked meal.
How was your weekend? Time flew for us amidst activities and house cleaning. The children went ice skating with the dad, while I walked around the mall by myself, visiting my favorite stores.. Pottery Barn and William Sonoma among the chosen few. I am not the one who “loves” to shop, but these stores are sources of inspirations for me as I look and register and at some point collect my thoughts, put them together and make them real.
Lauki or Dudhi/Doodhi (as it is called in Hindi) is a type of Indian gourd which is beautifully white inside the outer green peel with a hint of sweetish taste and is one of the most popular vegetables in an Indian home. It is usually known as the bottle gourd as the bottle shaped hardened ripened fruit are used to make bottles, vessels, instruments or pipes.
There is a lot one can do with this versatile vegetable. Not having any strong flavors or much taste to itself, the soft mild flesh inside the lovely green absorbs and adjusts to whatever recipe it is used in. There are in dry stir fries, curries, with sea food or lentils, in desserts, soups and a lot more creative recipes.
There is a big difference in the way the “world” sees and judges Indian food and what actually happens in the kitchen of an Indian home. It is the difference in what the general Indian restaurants sell as opposed to what we cook at home. The rich creamy spicy curries are not the every day meal style for us. Neither is Butter Chicken, Tikkas or Naan. What we treasure and find comfort in is a light flavorful and healthy meal loaded with myriad of vegetables most of which never make it to a restaurant menu card. And the Lauki/Dudhi or the bottle gourd is definitely one of them.
The recipe today is adapted from a close friend’s mom, who also happens to be a wonderful cook. She cooks delightful food, and feeds us with infectious enthusiasm, and her recipes are all light healthy and quick yet packed with flavor and taste. I have adapted this a tiny bit and use the tomato which is not there in the original recipe. Mine also is tuned to be a little bit more soupy, for I love to spoon out this slightly sweet and tangy sauce that the Lauki is simmered in, on some hot rice or simply dunk the bread as it softens in there soaking up the flavor.
The hing/asafoetida is an intriguing spice that imparts a very special flavor to this dish. Since the curry uses no onion, garlic or ginger the hing as it tempers in the ghee, is a vital flavoring agent as also are the fresh chili peppers. Come along with me, have a seat and enjoy a bowlful of the comforting Lauki curry.
Khatti Meethi Lauki – Sweet and Sour Bottle Gourd
Ingredients: (serves 2-4 as side)
- 1 small bottle gourd/lauki/dudhi
- 1 tablespoon ghee or oil
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds/jeera
- a very generous pinch of hing/asafoetida
- 2 fresh green chili pepper (sliced if you like the heat, and if you don’t leave them whole)
- 1 small fresh tomato, pureed (or 3/4 tablespoons tomato paste + 1/4 cup water OR 1/4 cup canned tomato puree)
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- salt to taste
- 2 teaspoon sugar (or to taste)
- 3/4 cup water
- a good squeeze of lime or lemon juice
- coriander/cilantro leaves to garnish (optional)
Peel the gourd and chop it into 3/4 inch cubes; wash well and drain.
Heat ghee in a deep pot. Add the hing/asafoetida and then after a few seconds add the cumin seeds. When the seeds sizzle add the green chili peppers, chopped or whole. When the peppers sizzle and has a few brown spots, (less than a minute), add the tomato (fresh puree/canned puree/or the paste combined with water) to the pot. Add salt, turmeric and sugar and cook for 2 -4 minutes, until the tomato mushes and thickens a bit.
Add the chopped lauki/gourd, toss for the tomato mix to coat the pieces, cook at medium heat for 2 minutes uncovered. Add the water, cover and cook until the gourd is tender- it will look translucent.The curry will be lightly soupy. If you want less liquid, simmer it a little bit longer until you get the desired consistency.
Serve hot as a side with a drizzle of lemon/lime juice and garnished with fresh chopped cilantro.
Its the best over hot rice or with warm bread to dunk it in the beautifully flavored curry.