Recipe no: 2 from my #regionalkitchensofindia series
A legacy of lost flavours…
Durga pujo (most important festival for Bengalis) at my choto pishi’s (paternal aunt) in the suburbs of Calcutta dates back to the early 1960s. The huge imposing estate in Naihati close to the Ganges has witnessed many a grand celebration over the years when cousins far and near and members across generations would gather to participate in the festivities with much fervour.
Of the many pujo bhog (food offered to goddess Durga) recipes, the one that stayed with me is this bottle gourd dish with shorshe baata (mustard paste) and narkel kora (grated coconut).
The humble lau/ lauki/ bottle gourd with earthy flavours results in a hearty soulful dish reminiscent of glorious days gone by 🙂
1 medium sized bottle gourd (lau), chopped in thin slices
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1 slit green chilli
2 whole green chilies
4 tbsp grated coconut
1/2 tsp sugar
Salt to taste
2 tbsp mustard oil
For mustard paste:
1 tsp black mustard seeds
2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
Salt to taste
1 small green chilli
1/3 cup warm water
Take a medium sized bottle gourd/ lau and chop it up in thin slices as shown in the picture below.
Heat a frying pan with mustard oil until it’s smoking hot and then temper it with mustard seeds and a slit green chilli. Once fragrant, add the chopped bottle gourd/ lauki and continue to stir fry on medium-high heat for 5 minutes.
Now cover the pan and let it cook on low heat. Meanwhile for the mustard paste, throw in the two mustard seeds, green chilli and salt in a blender with some warm water and let it rest for at least 10 minutes. Now blend few times to get a fine paste. The longer you soak the mustard seeds, the better.
Remove the cover from the pan and add the mustard paste and mix everything well and cook for 5 minutes. Add salt as per your taste.
Slowly add in the grated coconut and sugar and stir fry on medium heat for another 5-6 minutes. Throw in 2 green chilies and cover and cook for 10-15 more minutes or until the lau/ bottle gourd is well combined. There is no need to add any additional water.
Switch off the flame and give it a standing time for 5 minutes. Best served with some plain white rice 🙂
Did you know that the bottle gourd skin is actually very delicious when fried?!
Next time you prepare this or any other bottle gourd dish, don’t throw away the peels.
Chop them up in very fine slices along with some thinly sliced potatoes and stir fry them in oil (preferably mustard) tempered with nigella (kalonji) seeds and slit green chilies. Add in salt and turmeric powder and finish off with a sprinkling of some poppy (posto) seeds on top before taking it off from the stove.
Ta daa ! Your delicious lau khosha bhaja/ (fried bottle gourd skin) is ready!