Inspiration for cooking something can come from some odd places at times. Even tabloids! I don't recall when I saved this link in my ever growing list of recipes to try out, but when I was looking for something different to cook with bottle gourd (or dudhi or lauki or lau) I found it.
The 'lauki-groundnut sabji' looked simple, and particularly appealing with the use of garlic and peanuts, neither of which I usually associate with bottle gourd, even though they are familiar ingredients in marathi cuisine.
I weighed the gourd I had in the fridge and it was exactly 500 grams. Arre wah. Knowing that cups in India are often smaller than standard size cups, and also because it seemed like too much of a good thing, I decided to use only 3/4 th cup of peanuts, but when I was cooking, I thought that even that might be too much, so I held back some of it. Naturally, that meant losing some of the garlic and chili flavor too, which was part of the powder. Also, considering that the size of onions in India is much smaller than those in the U.S., I used only half an onion.
I cooked the vegetable right in the tadka, because boiling it in water does not appeal to me. So that normally takes 15-20 minutes depending on how tender the gourd is. Here is my version, with the quantities and method modified.
500 gms dudhi or bottle gourd
1 teaspoon + 2 tablespoons of oil
1/2 cup of peanuts
1 teaspoon of red chili powder
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
pinch of turmeric
1/2 an onion, chopped
salt to taste
a handful of cilantro leaves, chopped
Peel the bottle gourd, de-seed, and chop into about one inch cubes.
Heat one teaspoon of oil in a pan, and saute the peanuts with garlic for a few minutes. Grind the mixture with the chili powder in a food processor and set aside.
Heat the remaining two tablespoons of oil in a kadhai or wok. Add the mustard seeds, and when they start to crackle, add the cumin seeds and turmeric, followed by the chopped onion and saute until it starts to change color to a golden brown.
Add the chopped bottle gourd and stir it in. Add salt to taste, lower the heat, and place a lid on the pan. Let it cook for about 10-20 minutes until it gets tender, stirring once or twice. If it sticks to the pan, add a few spoonfuls of water.
Finally, add the ground peanut mixture and saute for a few minutes more. Check for seasoning and then add the chopped cilantro leaves. Best to serve with simple polis or rotis.
Update: The link to the recipe in Mid-Day does not work any more since they reconfigured their site.