My local grocery store has started selling non-traditional fresh produce. In the past few months this has included okra, karela, green bananas and haberanos chilies. To those who are used to an American supermarket where fresh produce from around the world abounds, this will appear to be not much of anything. But here where I primarily can only find carrots, broccoli, corn, potatoes, and squashes—butternut and gem–the introduction of these new types of produce is exciting.
Last week, while perusing this new section, I found a bottle gourd (also known as a calabash or in Gujarati a dudhi)! I haven’t seen these in South Africa, ever. So I was very excited about it. I got a 2 pound bottle gourd and took it home. My mom always uses the bottle gourd to make a veggie dish with chana dal. You can go into any Indian store and ask for chana dal. They should have it.
Though I love this veggie dish, I have never actually worked with a bottle gourd before. My mom had said you can use a good veggie peeler to peel the skin off the gourd. But my peeler must not have been that good, because I couldn’t get the peel off with it. I ended up resorting to using a paring knife to slice off the skin. I probably took off more of the edible part of the gourd than I needed to, but I had more than enough leftover.
Peeling it is the hardest part. Once peeled, I then just chopped it up and placed it into the pressure cooker with the chana dal, added twice as much water and let it cook. You can also use a slow cooker instead or just put it in a covered pot on the stove, let the water boil on high heat and once it is boiling turn the heat down and let it cook.
From there, it is a quick 10-15 minutes until the dish is done and you are ready for dinner!
1/2c chana dal
2 pounds bottle gourd
1 t mustard seeds
1 T oil
1/4 t turmeric
pinch of asafatedia
1 t crushed red chili powder
1/2 t cumin-coriander powder
1 t sugar
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 t garam masala
1 t salt
Boil water and soak chana dal while you are preparing the bottle gourd. Peel and chop the bottle gourd. Place chana dal and chopped bottle gourd into a pressure cooker or in pot to boil. Cook until both are very soft.
In separate pan, add oil and mustard seeds over high heat. Once the mustard seeds start popping, add turmeric, chili powder, and cumin and coriander powder. Mix a few times. Add the cooked chana dal and bottle gourd. Stir. Add sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Lower heat and cover. Cook until flavors have blended together. Add garam masala. Stir and serve with bread.