One of the great improvements in modern urban living over the past generation has been the vast increase in the availability of foodstuffs from around the world — ingredients that many of us never grew up with and that many of our parents had never heard of are now found in both supermarkets and a variety of ethnic grocers that continue to pop up in our cities. Last year a large Asian supermarket opened up a few blocks away from my house with a huge array of fresh exotic produce and shelves upon shelves of astonishing ingredients from every part of the continent, including India — I could spend days roaming the aisles in delight at the new discoveries.
The opportunity to cook with bottle gourds is just one of the many that these kinds of stores have afforded North American shoppers. Also known as long gourds or calabashes, these large bright green gourds look like a Granny Smith apple stretched into a rolling pin shape. The thin skin is easily peeled, and the pale flesh inside holds its firm and juicy texture when cooked. The mellow but sweet taste is cooling and makes a perfect base for spicy and flavorful Indian dals and vegetable curries. Bottle gourds are also rich in essential minerals like calcium, phosphorus and iron, as well as containing a healthy amount of dietary fiber.
Tender chunks of sweet and juicy bottle gourd surround a light hot and sour curried broth in this simple but astonishingly flavorful south Indian dish, loaded with plump cooked channa dal for protein. Adapted from Giri Jigyasa and Jain Pratibha's delightful Sukham Ayu, this dal takes very little time to prepare and cook. It can be served as a thick curry alongside some fresh hot cooked rice for lunch, or thinned with more water to serve as a soup starter at dinner.
The instruction for a 1-inch piece of tamarind is based on the cake form of the dried pulp sold in every Indian and Asian grocer — however, a tablespoon of tamarind paste can be substituted. Similarly, split yellow peas can be substituted for channa dal — this will impart a slightly sweeter but earthier taste that many will find pleasing.
|Simple Spicy Bottle Gourd Dal|
|Recipe by Lisa Turner|
Adapted from Sukham Ayu: Cooking at Home With Ayurvedic Insights
Published on May 9, 2012
Tender chunks of sweet and juicy bottle gourd surround a light hot and sour curried broth in this simple but elegant and astonishingly flavorful south Indian channa dal soup
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On the top of the reading stack: Simply South: Traditional Vegetarian Cooking by Chandra Padmanabhan