Monday, February 23, 2009

Bottle gourd & tomato curry

Dear foodies,

I simply can't wait for Spring to come and brighten up everything around here! It feels like it's been snowing forever now. I guess it takes a depressing winter to appreciate the sun peeping out of the white clouds and a perfectly blue sky. The snow does make the whole city look beautiful in pristine white, but its what it does to the roads that I hate. I am still just as terrified of driving in snow as I was two seasons ago. How do you get used to it? I really wish I knew. For now, I take the easy way out but staying in :D Brilliant idea ? Definitely not!

One of the things I cut in my travel list over the last few months was the trip to the Indian grocery store that is 30miles North of where I live. Its a nightmare to drive up there since its in the snow belt and it gets really bad when it snows. The local stores have had a good selection of winter veggies during these months, and since its a warm hearty soup that I crave most often, it has worked out, it had to ;) Early this month I visited my brother (or was it the Sun :P) in Houston, and sneaked in a little grocery shopping, yes a pack of urad dal and cumin seeds came all the way from Houston :))

Last weekend was a little better here and I spent nearly an hour at the Indian store going through all the aisles and looking for new products on the shelves. I bought some fresh vegetables like bottle gourd, bitter gourd and dondakaya/tindora. I also spotted a 5 lb bag of Sona masoori and just had to pick it up. Most of last year the stores here did not stock sona masoori, they only had basmati, which I prefer only for biryani's or pulaos and not for everyday cooking. I bought the US grown white/brown rice from the organic store here instead. So this weekend I decided on having a comforting meal to invite the dear grain back into the kitchen...I love its flavor and could actually eat it on its own :D

Bottle gourd & tomato curry
  • 11/2 cup - Bottle gourd/sorakaya/dudhi, peeled, de-seeded and cubed
  • 1 cup - Ripe tomatoes, diced
  • Optional: 1/2 tsp - tamarind extract if tomatoes aren't tangy enough
  • 1/2 cup - Onions, diced
  • 11/2 Tbsp - Channa dal
  • 2-3 nos - Green chillies, slit lengthwise
  • 6-7 nos - Curry leaves, roughly chopped/torn
  • 1/2 tsp - Mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp - Cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp - Turmeric powder
  • 3/4 Tbsp - Oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp - Sesame seeds/til/nuvvulu, toasted (I microwaved them for 11/2 mins in 30sec intervals)
  • 1 Tbsp - Peanuts, dry roasted
  • couple of sprigs of Cilantro
  1. Heat a saucepan with oil, splutter the mustard and cumin seeds. Add the channa dal next, as it starts changing color add the green chillies, curry leaves and turmeric. Saute for 30sec until the chillies soften and the dal has a deep orange hue.
  2. Add the onions and saute until they turn translucent. The tomatoes go in next along with some salt, cook for 5-7mins until they soften and turn to a mush.
  3. Add the cubed bottle gourd to this along with a cup of water, cover and cook on medium heat until they soften and yield to a gentle press ~ 10-12mins. You could also microwave them separately for a few minutes before adding them to the onion-tomato mix.
  4. Finally, coarsely powder the toasted sesame seeds and peanuts in a mortar and pestle and add it to the curry. Cook for 5-6 mins, allowing the flavors to blend and thicken the curry a little. Taste for seasonings & add more salt if needed.
  5. Garnish with cilantro/coriander leaves and serve along with hot rice/chapathis and the quintessential Andhra avakaya and crispies on the side :)
I am feeling hungry just looking at the plate again! I had the curry for lunch and dinner over the weekend and was going for seconds each time, it was a very satisfying meal. I usually use the sorakaya in a sambar or kootu or steamed, but this time I did not want the dal to take over. I still needed the protein part though, and so increased the qty of channa dal in the tadka and let it soften along with the bottle gourd. The curry has a really nice tangy edge to it from the tomatoes. If the tomatoes you have aren't doing their job, add a little tamarind extract to help them along. The powdered peanuts and sesame and a subtle nutty flavor and texture to the curry, and also thicken it up a bit. On the whole it was delicious and I'm surely going to use this recipe again.

22 thoughts:

Suparna said...

Hi priya,
health bhi aur taste bhi :) lovely..wish I was there to taste some curry. Pics are lovely.TC

Vidhya said...

somehow, i avoid this bottle gourd most of the times. But by looking at your spicy curry, may be i should give it a try...thanks for sharing

Indhu said...

delicious looking :)
your pictures are really good!

Superchef said...

mmm...sounds delicious!! the lovely pics make it look even more delicious!!

Medhaa said...

looks absolutely delicious, love the color of the curry

Lakshmi Venkatesh said...

Lovely photos. I make it sometimes but minus the sesame and peanuts. next will try adding them also.

Pavani said...

I usually add putnala podi (dalia pd), but sesame and peanuts sounds yummy.. Will try next time I buy bottle gourd.

Priya said...

Suparna hehe, come over any time and I'll make some for you :)

Vidhya, do give it another chance, the gourd by itself is very mildly flavored, so you can pair it with any combination of spices you like. Let me know if this dish changes your mind:)

Indhu, thanks you :)

Superchef, thank you! And I'm glad you dropped a comment so I could trace it to your lovely blog, wonderful recipes there!

Medhaa, even I liked the color soo much :)

Lakshmi, it was a last minute addition that turned out great in the curry.

Pavani, putnala podi is a nice idea, I actually saw them in the pantry, but nuvvulu won this time :)

Soma said...

Priya u came to Hosuton & did not visit me?!! :-) I am in Dallas suburbs.

I hate driving.. forget driving in snow.

That dudhi looks very comforting.. I make mine in a similar way but I love your addition of peanuts & sesame & chanadal. I guess its adds so much extra flavor to the mild dudhi. U got real good colors in that.

Cham said...

One of the simple food we all crave sometimes, beautiful comfort food. So still Sona masuri is in demand? In CA, the price dropped a little (like 10 bucks per 20lb) But easily available... I can understand how much u should be excited seeing the rice!

veggie belly said...

Just gorgeous! I love how you plated this. I'm obsessed with all types of gourds :)

A_and_N said...

Lovely pictures, Priya!

Priya said...

Soma, I was too lazy to make two curries, so I fortified this one with everything I needed :D I did not know you lived in Dallas, for some reason I thought it was New Jersey :D I visit Houston once in 3-4 months, will let you know next time :)

Cham, 10 bucks for 20lbs! really! I think I paid 6$ for the 5lber! The stores here stocked up on many brands in Basmati last year, with hardly any sona masoori.

Sala,me too! Bitter gourd is next in line though :D thank you :)

Gayathri said...

What a professional blog, i have ever seen.

I am really happy to invite you to participate in the contest that is getting launced on Feb 20 2009 - check out this link for details - contest.

Divya Vikram said...

That platter looks really comforting..

Premyscakes said...

Hi Priya, curry looks perfect and yum.

mona said...

I agree. As much as I love snow and this beautiful nature's wonder, nowadays I feel sick, tired and lazy coz of this gloomy cloudy weather.
Eagerly waiting for spring for a variety of fresh green vegetables, little gardening and lots of sunshine :-)
The tomato and bottle gours curry looks so good and comforting in this chilly weather.

Sandeepa said...

Looks like a perfectly comforting meal, something i would love to come home to

Radhika said...

Your blog is looking very good with all those fotos...
The bottle gourd dish is very intereting,i usually don't use this.I'll try it and let u know!

About me,i am trying to experiment with cooking new dishes and so iam visiting many blogs for new recipes.
Do keep up the good job!

Srivalli said...

Hey priya not just you..but me too...very hungry looking at the lovely comfort plate! usual your pictures are classic out of the magazine types!!!...have checked all of them and I can't decide which one is more drool worthy!...

Pooja said...

i'm visiting ur blog for the first time and i'm in love with it ! gr8 recipes ! ur photo taking skills are mind blowing ! i'm following ur blog !

abha said...

just chanced upon your page and was thinking of chane ki dal with ghiya, now I think I will make ghiya with chane ki dal.

thanks for the photos that go along, makes everything so much more delectable

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