Suprises in a bottle

Amrita Prasad
Thursday, 16 May 2019

The simple and humble bottle gourd is one of the most underrated vegetables which can be used to prepare interesting dishes

Doodhi Halwa, Besan-stuffed Lauki Curry, Lauki Raita, Lauki Soup, Lauki Barfi, Lauki Kofta and so on. The more lauki you consume in summer the better because it is light on the stomach. Often, the simplest things turn out to be absolute treasures, and lauki is one such treasure. Call it bottle gourd, or lauki, doodhi, or ghiya, the modest vegetable is extremely simple to prepare and is loaded with health benefits. 

For starters, it’s a great option for vegans and those who like to eat gluten-free food. Those striving to lose some weight must befriend bottle gourd because it is great for weight loss too. It is also rich in fibre and hydrating too because of its high water content.  

It is also known to be rich in iron, vitamin B and C, sodium, potassium, essential minerals and trace elements, which regulate blood pressure and prevent the risk of heart ailments. Haven’t you heard fitness enthusiasts and nutritionists swearing by lauki juice? 

While kids and picky eaters will never understand the benefits of eating lauki, you can always give it an interesting twist to make it more appealing. 

Sapna Chaudhary, city-based home chef and caterer, says, “It is true that it isn’t a very popular vegetable, especially among children. But the fact that lauki has a very neutral taste, makes it for an amazing ingredient to make a dish of your choice. From a simple Lauki Ki Subzi, which is made with onion and chillies and minimum masalas, to Besan-stuffed Lauki Curry, made by stuffing the bottle gourd with a mixture of besan, peanuts, spices and then served with a rich, creamy tomato-based gravy, you can do unimaginable things with this simple vegetable. And then of course, you have Lauki Ki Barfi and Halwa.”   

While Lauki Ka Raita is quite simple to make, it can be given interesting twists. And what better way to relish raita than summer? Chaudhary says, “Lauki Ka Raita is a great change from the usual Boondi and Cucumber Raita. It is filling and cooling and is a great add-on to your meals in summer. To make it more interesting, you may add spices and herbs that will enhance the taste of your raita.”  

Madhura Chitale believes that many people forget to look at doodhi when it comes to desserts. However, they are one of the best ingredients to make desserts in a short time. “Doodhi Ka Halwa tastes delicious and is healthy too. You can relish it on any given day without feeling guilty. Many also make it on festivals. However, if you wish, you can substitute sugar with jaggery. Another option is Dhoodhi Ki Barfi, which is easy to make. It is made with bottle gourd, milk, sugar and khoya, and you can also add elaichi and dryfruits,” says Chitale.

Lajawab Lauki

Vicky Sahu, head chef, Levit8, NIBM, shares an interesting recipe

LAUKI KOFTA CURRY 

INGREDIENTS
- Lauki, grated ……...    1½ cup
- Gram flour………….    5 tbsp
- Rice flour………….    2 tbsp
- Turmeric powder…………….    1/4 tsp 
- Green chillies, finely chopped…………...    1
- Ginger-garlic paste……………..    1/2 tbsp 
- Onion, finely chopped…………….    2 tbsp
- Oil for deep frying
- Salt to taste
For gravy
- Medium-sized tomatoes……….    2 
- Cashew nuts, soaked in water for 20 min            2 tbsp
- Cumin seeds     1/2 tsp
- Ginger-garlic paste………………    1/2 tbsp
- Medium-sized onions, finely chopped    2  
- Coriander powder    1 tsp
- Red chilli powder    1/2 tsp
- Garam masala powder    1/2 tsp
- Turmeric powder    1/4 tsp 
- Thick curd (not sour)    1/4 cup
- Water    3/4 cup 
- Oil    2 tbsp
- Salt to taste

METHOD 

For the kofta 

- Peel and grate lauki. Squeeze out the water completely and keep that water for making the gravy.
- Take squeezed grated lauki in a large bowl. Add gram flour, rice flour, turmeric powder, ginger-garlic paste, finely chopped green chillies, finely chopped onion and salt.
- Mix all the ingredients. The mixture should have a thick consistency to make round-shaped balls. If it is watery, then add 1-2 tsp gram flour and mix. Do not keep this mixture idle for long since lauki releases water over time and it will make the mixture soggy and you will not be able to make kofta balls.
- Grease your palms with oil and divide the mixture into 10 to 12 portions. Take each portion and make round shaped balls.
- Heat oil in a frying pan over medium flame. When the oil is medium hot, add 3-4 balls at a time. Stir occasionally and deep-fry until they turn light golden brown and crisp. 
- Take them out using slotted spoon, drain excess oil and place them over kitchen tissue in a plate.

For the gravy

- Blanch the tomatoes and crush them with cashew nuts to make tomato-cashew puree.
- Heat 2-tbsp oil in saucepan over medium flame. Add cumin seeds and cook until they sizzle, 7-10 seconds. Add ginger-garlic paste and stir-fry for 30-40 seconds. Add chopped onion and stir-fry until it turns light pink in colour.
- Add tomato-cashew puree and mix well. Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes.
- Add red chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala powder, turmeric powder and salt (add for gravy). Mix well and stir-fry for a minute.
- Add thick curd and mix.
- Stir-fry for a minute.
- Add lauki water (kept in step-2) and 1/2-cup water and cook over medium flame for 3-4 minutes. Stir in between occasionally.
- Add fried kofta balls to the gravy.
- Cook for 5-6 minutes and turn off the flame. Transfer it to a serving bowl and garnish with coriander leaves.

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