Friday, November 30, 2012

Ridge Gourd Chutney, Deconstructed

Everything I learned about "ridge gourds", I learned online. This might sound like an exaggeration, but it is very close to the truth. Ridge gourd, which is called 'doDake' or 'shiraLe' in Marathi, and 'turai' in Hindi is a vegetable that I wasn't familiar with while growing up. While it is quite commonly used in most regions of India, I don't recall eating it much, if at all, and I know for sure I never ever watched anyone cooking it either at my home or anyone else's.

Like many other vegetables that I had never tried before, I began to see loads of beautiful gourds in the Asian stalls at the local farmers market, and was tempted to try it out. I started looking for recipes to use it, and found plenty of ideas online. But I was clueless right from selecting the gourds. Are the smaller ones better or the larger? Slim better or hefty? I had to even search online for instructions on how to peel and prepare them before using in a recipe. After reading and searching about it, I felt I was finally ready to cook with it.

Turai with dumplings

The first thing I ever cooked was this 'Ridge Gourd with dumplings' sabjee, about five years ago. I used oat flour instead of jowar, and made the dumplings bite sized, about the same size that I chopped the gourds into. It was such a hit that I made it repeatedly. Soon after that, I started looking for more recipes to expand my repertoire, and tried this 'Stuffed Ridge Gourd' which was an instant hit too. I realized that I enjoyed the slightly earthy taste and texture of of this vegetable, unlike some of my other family members, because of which the vegetable must have never made an appearance in our house.

Then one day, when there wasn't enough time to make the dumplings, or the stuffing, I wanted to make some kind of a quick saute bhaaji (chop, sizzle, and stir) and that was when I deconstructed Mint's 'Ridge Gourd chutney' to make a bhaaji, and it has become a huge favorite ever since.Here it is, adapted and translated with her permission.

Turai Bhaaji

Ingredients

2-3 ridge gourds (depending on their size)

4 cloves of garlic
4 green chilies

1-2 Tablespoons oil
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
pinch of asafoetida
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
a few curry leaves (optional)

3-4 tablespoons crushed peanuts
1-2 Tablespoons dried shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
about 4 Tablespoons chopped cilantro

Method

Cut off the ends of the ridge gourds. Scrape off the bumpy ridges with a vegetable peeler. Cut each into half lengthwise, and then slice crosswise into half moons. Add the pieces to a bowl of cold water with a teaspoon of salt, for about 10-15 minutes, and drain in a colander before using.

In the meanwhile, prepare the other things. Peel the garlic. Remove the stems of the green chilies and wash them. In a mortar and pestle, smash the garlic and chilies together until they barely hold their shapes. Do not smash into a paste, but you need them to release all their flavor.

Heat the oil in a wide pan or wok. Add the mustard seeds, and when they start to pop, add the asafoetida, turmeric, curry leaves, smashed garlic and chilies, and stir for a few seconds or until the garlic starts to change color slightly.

Add the chopped ridge gourd, and saute just until coated with the seasoned oil. Cook on medium-high heat, stirring occasionaly, until the ridge gourd is almost done. The gourds usually release a fair amount of water, so I do not cover them while cooking.

In the meanwhile, roast the coconut in a small dry skillet until it turns slightly golden brown. When it is cool enough to handle, crush it coarsely with fingers, or a rolling pin, or a pestle.

Add salt to taste, and the crushed peanuts and coconut to the vegetable in the last couple of minutes before turning the heat off, and stir everything around. Add the cilantro just before serving, and serve warm, with polis or rice and dal.

Turai Bhaaji served

Dodkyachi Bhaaji served with Polis

16 comments:

Sangeeta Kajaria said...

Awesome! This is one of my favorite vegetables but I do not end up making it so often, for the simple reason that I find peeling it a very tidious job. But now I know what to pick up when I next go to the Indian store. Will try making this for sure and get back with the results

sra said...

This is a really unusual recipe for me. I never leave the peel on. Folks in my region make a chutney with the peel but I think of the pesticides and don't make it. :) In fact, I make this veg only rarely because it's so tiresome to peel. Earlier we used to get smaller ones which weren't so ridged and so long so it was okay but now we only get the snaky kinds and there's little flesh in them after all that trouble.

Anyway, I'm going to try this peel and all - it looks and sounds so good!

evolvingtastes said...

Sangeeta, welcome, nice to see you here! If you like your food spicy, you should increase the number of chilies in this recipe. I do not eat or cook very spicy food, so this recipe leans towards being slightly mild or medium spicy, but full of flavor. Let me know if you try it out.

evolvingtastes said...

sra, I do peel off the ridges to remove the rough/prickly edges. I cut up the gourd into manageable chunks (2-3) and use a Y-peeler to do that and it doesn't take me long at all. I find it works better than a regular peeler for this.

sra said...

I meant I peel it entirely, not just the ridges. Does the Y-peeler work for that also?

evolvingtastes said...

sra, yes the Y peeler will work for everything, ridges and entire peel.

TheHeirloomEssence said...

I make bhaji! Chutney new to me! going to try this one! :)

evolvingtastes said...

TheHeirloomEssence, welcome here, officially! This is a very simple everyday type of bhaaji. I converted the chutney into a stir-fry, but try it either way.

Priti said...

Since you like 'Turai' I highly recommend Bajia's cooking 'Turai ki bhujia' which is a simple preparation that can be served with roti. Just google it to see the video. Everything this lady cooks tastes amazing!

evolvingtastes said...

Priti, thanks! I checked it out, and it does look interesting. I have made one from 'My Bombay Kitchen', which is similar, with onions and tomatoes, and it tastes lovely too.

Laavanya said...

I can't say this was my favorite vegetable growing up but that curry looks delicious. I must try the other 2 versions you've mentioned as well.

evolvingtastes said...

Laavanya, let me know if you try out any of them!

Poornima said...

Made your bhaji. YUM! I had to hunt for the vegeable hence the delay in commenting.Hope you will be posting more such delicious recipes soon!

evolvingtastes said...

Poornima, nice to hear from you after a long time! And glad to hear you enjoyed this not-so-glamorous vegetable dish. I shall try and post more regularly; thanks for the prod.

356 Tage said...

Oh how I would love to exchange my ravioli for this gorgeous dish...

evolvingtastes said...

356, what a deal!

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