Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dudhichi Patal Bhaji (Bottle gourd curry)

Dudhi-Bhopala/Lauki or Bottlegourd is found in almost all households in India. This vegetable has gained a lot of popularity these days because of it's huge positive impact on blood pressure and heart diseases. It is also considered as one of the best weight loss foods since it has 96% water and provides just 12 calories per 100 gms of serving.

My fondest memories of having this dish is at my cousin's home when her grandmother from 'Ugar' visited and she served this dish with hot hot phulkas with a huge dollop of ghee. Yum!!
Dudhi-Bhopala or Bottlegourd preparations were almost always greeted with a frown at our dining table, until we were introduced to this preparation. This is by far my favorite way of enjoying dudhi-bhopala. It has a mild nutty flavor and the entire curry is perfectly spiced and textured to enjoy with both rotis and rice.

I really hope you all enjoy this preparation as much as we do!

Level: Easy
Serves: 2 - 4 people
Source: Ugar chi ajji

1 large bottle gourd/dudhi, peeled and cubed
2 tblsp chana dal (soaked for 2 hrs)
2 - 3 green chillies, finely chopped
1 tblsp raw peanuts
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
1 tblsp chickpea flour/besan
1 marble sized ball of jaggery
1 tsp tamarind pulp
1 tblsp coconut (fresh or frozen)
1 tsp cumin seeds
Salt as per taste
Water as required

3/4 tsp mustard seeds
2 pinch asafoetida
3/4 tsp cumin seeds
4 - 5 curry leaves

Step 1 - In a pressure pan add the cubed bottlegourd, chana dal, green chillies, peanuts and the turmeric powder. Add water till the ingredients are almost completely soaked. Do not drown them in water. This could result in  a very watery consistency. Pressure cook for 1 whistle or till the bottlegourd is well done and soft.

Step 2 - Grind together the coconut and 1 tsp of cumin seeds with a little water to form a smooth paste. Keep aside. Mix the chickpea flour with 2 tblsp water and make a smooth paste. Keep this aside too.

Step 3 - Once the pressure settles down, open your pressure pan and slightly mash a few bottlegourd pieces. Do not mash all of them. Just a couple will do. This improves the consistency of the dish. Add the coconut and chickpea pastes from Step 2, tamarind pulp and jaggery. Mix well. Add salt and adjust taste. This curry should be slightly sweet and tangy.

Step 4 - In a small pan, heat 1 tsp oil. Add mustard seeds and let them pop. Add the asafoetida and the cumin seeds. When the cumin seeds start changing color add the curry leaves. Mix quickly with a spoon and pour this into the boiling dal in the pressure pan. Mix once.

Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with some hot rotis or phulkas. This preparation goes well with steamed rice too.

Do not over handle or boil the bottle gourd for too long. This could make the curry paste like. That would spoil the chunky texture this dish needs to have.

Bottle gourd cooks really quickly. So if you are not sure how long you need to pressure cook this, do it one whistle at a time.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Beetacha Raita (Beetroot Salad)

SHOCKING PINK! The insane reason I end up serving this salad at parties. Like all yogurt based salads, this one tastes great with meat curries or spicy pulavs and biryanis.
There are multiple benefits of consuming this root vegetable. Even though beetroot has one of the highest sugar contents of any vegetable (upto 10%), this sugar is released slowly into the body without causing any sudden rush. The benefits of consuming beets, from helping boost stamina and making muscles work more efficiently to reducing blood pressure, have made the news recently.

I have prepared this salad in a typical maharashtrian way. This recipe could be used as a base recipe. Just keep changing the vegetables. Cucumbers or raddish make great replacements in this preparation.

Hope this recipe gets you another step closer to including this super food in your diet.

Serves: 5 - 6 people
Level: Easy

2 medium beetroots
2 cups yogurt
3 - 4 green chillies, finely chopped
Salt to taste
1 tsp sugar
2 tblsp ground roasted peanut powder (optional)
1 tblsp clarified butter/oil
3/4 tsp cumin seeds
3 pinch asafoetida
3 - 4 tblsp coriander leaves finely chopped

Step 1 - Boil the beetroots in a pressure pan for 2 whistles. Peel with a vegetable peeler and grate it into a small bowl.

Step 2 - Add the yogurt in another large bowl. Beat it a little till it is lump free. Add salt and sugar. This yogurt should be just a little sweet. Add the green chillies, roasted peanut powder and the grated beetroot. Mix well. Add a little more yogurt if you need a runny salad.

Step 3 - In a small pan, heat the clarified butter. Add cumin seeds. When they get nicely roasted add the asafoetida and immediately pour this into your mixed salad. Stir well. Add the coriander leaves.

Serve immediately.

Even though I have mentioned that the roasted peanut powder is optional, I would recommend adding it whenever possible as it gives this salad a great nutty flavor.