Bottle gourd is one of those vegetables that I don’t love so much, infact I don’t love it at all, and that’s right there on my face. I have memories of going to the weekly vegetable market with my mum. She used to take me along, for two reasons – one – so that she could teach me how to buy a good vegetable – ha, ha, ha….she didn’t know I cared least in the world, because I never intended to do so, and two – to help her carry the load of the weekly vegetables because we had the fresh vegetable market only once a week. Never did I realize that going to the weekly vegetable market would become as much a passion with me as it is for my mother. I think we share the love of wandering from vendor to vendor, assimilating the beauty of fresh vegetables straight from the farm. Rubbing my hands over muddy potatoes and inhaling the soil from which it came, connects me so strongly with the soil and the sweat that was put in cultivating the produce. I cant get enough of mounds of oranges that carefully stashed according to their sizes, bigger ones going expensive and smaller ones going cheap. I would always go in for the smaller one’s not because they were cheap, but because they were so much more sweeter. I really can write a lot about my love for the vegetable market, but I will reserve it for some other post, and go back to this unappreciated green bottle like vegetable called the ghiya or lauki or bottle gourd. My mom used to make the most horrible ghiya and aloo (bottle gourd and potatoes) curry. I cant even begin to think the taste of it, no, I just don’t remember what it tasted like then. Its all over now…..thankfully. As I grew I realized there were ways to make something horrid taste good, and here’s my own version of making ghiya koftas in a milky gravy. This is kind of a specialty with me, because I don’t know of anyone whose ghiya koftas taste so good. That’s too much of bragging – aint it? Apologies for that. Preparation time – 15-20 minutes
Cooking Time – 15 minutes
Serves – 4-5
Ingredients – For the koftas
1 bottlegourd / ghiya / lauki – about 250 grms (grated)
1 onion – finely chopped
1/2 tspn turmeric powder
1 tspn salt
a pinch asafetida
1/2 cup gramflour / besan
For the gravy
2 tomatoes, 1 onion, 2 flakes garlic and a small piece ginger ground into a paste
1 cup milk
1 tbsn cream (optional)
2 tbspn coriander powder
1 tspn garam masala
1 tspn turmeric powder
1 tspn deghi mirch / paprika
1 tspn red chilli powder (optional)
1 tspn amchoor powder / dry mango powder / lime juice
Mix everything for the koftas to a smooth thick batter and fry into small fritters in hot oil.
Drain and keep aside
In a pan roast the ground paste till oil separates indicating that this is cooked
Add the turmeric powder and stir well
Add the coriander powder and stir well
Add the deghi mirch and red chilli powder and stir well
Now start adding the milk quarter cup at a time and cook till the milk blends well into the paste
This step is imperative because if you put in all the milk at one time you will not get the desired consistency of the gravy.
Once you are finished cooking the milk add the cream if you wish to. I do this only occasionally to give it more creaminess.
Now add 1 cup of water and enough salt about 1-1/2 tspn and let everything come to a boil
Drop in the koftas right before serving and boil for about 4-5 minutes
Sprinkle the garam masala and chopped coriander leaves as garnish.
The koftas usually absorb a lot of the gravy so ideally you should put in the koftas a little before serving.
How much soft they will be will depend on the type of parkoras or fritters you have made. If you used too much gramflour then they will be hard and will absorb little gravy.
Occasionally I add kasturi methi or dry fenugreek leaves or throw in some boiled green peas.
This pairs very well with plain boiled rice and raita, and is really one of my very favourite dishes to make .