Winter Melon, Ash Gourd, Boodida Gummadikaya (Telugu), Neer Poosanikai(Tamil) - different names for a gorgeous pumpkin like vegetable. Its usually cut up into wedges and sold at the Indian grocery store, & I usually use it in the avial recipe. That was the only recipe I used it in. But the last two times I decided it was time to try different recipes, because though I love avial, I don't make it that often. I made a delicious halwa once (
The only thing missing in my kootu this time was curry leaves. Curry leaves are one of those quintessential South Indian ingredients that have no substitute. They have a complex grassy, lemony flavor that cannot be found in other fresh herbs. The lady at a local Indian grocery store here told me that the plant is easily prone to infestations that spread to surrounding citrus plants. California being major citrus grower has placed an embargo on growing curry leaves here. So for now we are at the mercy of the grocery stores here, only one of them continues to stock it, and they charge 1.50$ for 4-5 sprigs :( We went to Artesia last week and found twice the amount being sold for 79c! arggh!
Gummadikaya Pala Kootu
- 4 cups - Gummadikaya, cubed into 1" pieces
- ~ 2 cups - Water
- 1 cup - Milk
- 1 Tbsp - Sugar
- Salt to tastefor masala paste:
- 11/2 Tbsp - Urad Dal
- 1/2 tsp - Black peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp - Coriander seeds (optional)
- 3 nos - Red Chillies
- 1 tsp - Rice
- 1/2 cup - grated Coconut, fresh/frozenfor seasoning:
- 1 tsp - Mustard seeds
- 1 tsp - Urad dal
- 1 sprig - Curry leaves
- 2 tsp - OilMethod:
- In a deep saucepan, add the cubed melon, water and cook covered until the melon softens on medium heat. The melon lets out its own water when cooked so don't add too much in the beginning.
- In the meantime, in a shallow pan heat the oil and roast spices & dal. Turn off the heat, add the grated coconut and let it brown lightly in the residual heat. After they are slightly cooled, blend to a coarse paste adding water as needed.
- Add the spice paste, salt, sugar, additional water (optional) and cook for about 3-4 mins.
- Reduce the heat and add a cup of milk or as needed to reach the desired consistency & continue to simmer on low heat for 4-5mins.
- Transfer to a serving dish and top it off with the seasoning of mustard seeds, urad dal & curry leaves and serve alongside warm rice.Notes: You can use the same recipe to cook bottle gourd, chayote squash, red pumpkin(erra gummadikaya). Don't let the kootu boil after milk is added as it can cause the milk to curdle. But if that does happen, the urad dal and rice that we added will help to hold the kootu together.
This is mild dish with a hint of sweetness from the ash gourd that is further accentuated by the sugar. Peppercorns bring heat to the party, but its harshness is tempered by the addition of milk. Eaten with warm rice it will warm you up from within when the temperature outside dips low. It also goes well with phulkas as you can soak up the gravy with each bite. The melon just melts into delicious nothingness in the end, and so the seasoning in the end with the dal and mustard seed adds some needed crunch. I just love the crunchy bits and always tend to overdo them in mine :)