Let’s go back to Kashmir…the crossover time between spring and summer. Lauki or “Al” or bottle gourd starts to take seed in the floating gardens. I brought seeds with me last summer and planted them here in the north eastern climate of the US. I have tiny little plants growing now and am excited to see the results.
Also known as Bottle Gourd, this vegetable is 96% water but full of health benefits with healing properties. You can find it in your local international store.
Yakhni denotes a yoghurt based sauce. This recipe for the bottle gourd is subtly spiced with fennel and dry ginger powder. This is a light spring time recipe….not spicy and not greasy, just right to enjoy with rice under a breeze.
I will post some photos of the floating gardens of Kashmir and I walk you through this recipe.
Here is what your need:
I bottle gourd (Lauki) peeled, seeds removed and cut in chunks
2 cups whole milk yoghurt
8 green cardamons
3 black cardamons
2 tsp dry ginger powder
2 tsp dry fennel powder
2 inch cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp tumeric
1 tablespoon garlic ( crushed)
Canola oil to fry the lauki
a pinch of black cumin seeds
salt to taste
Putting it together:
Yoghurt is best when precooked. Beat the yoghurt until smooth, add half cup of water and cook on medium heat beating it to a smooth consistency for about 10 mins. Put aside.
Fry the gourd in shallow pan until just lightly pale brown.
In a heavy bottomed pan add about 3 cups of water and all the spices ( except cumin) and garlic. Cook for 10 minutes. Add the cooked yoghurt and the gourd. Cook over medium heat until the lauki is soft and tender and the sauce has thickened. Turns off the heat and add the cumin. Mix well.
Kashmiri food is a culinary dance that plays on all the senses. The flavors and a spices incorporates the rich diversity of the people of Kashmir.
Kashmiri’s are hearty meat eaters but the history and the cuisine is immersed the cross cultural influences of earthy foods, farm and hillside vegetables and spiritualism through food. This dish is simple. Turnips and beans may seem like unusual companions but they result in an amazing offering.
My dad sent me an old cookbook a few years back and I ventured into experimenting this dish. Do try it. It is food for the soul and senses.
Here is what you need:
2 cups of dry red beans ( soaked overnight)
5 turnips ( peeled and cut into quarters)
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
3 whole red chilies
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp black cumin seeds
2 inch cinnamon stick
2 tablespoon ginger powder
2 tablespoon fennel powder
a pinch of asafetida ( hing)
Mustard or olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste.
I use a pressure cooked to make this dish but you can use a heavy bottomed pan. The beans need to be cooked with the turmeric until firm but not too soft. Fry the turnips in a shallow pan with oil until browned and drain on a paper towel.
Use the same pan and add garlic, cumin, cinnamon, red chillies, fennel and ginger powder. Fry in the oil, add a splash of water to soften and then put this mixture in the beans ( again, I am using a pressure cooker). Add the turnips, whole chilies and the asafetida ( this is optional). Let it pressure cook for about 5 minutes until the turnips have softened. Same idea if you are using a heavy pan to let this cook.
Serve with white or brown rice and a side of good yoghurt.
Cooking with and for friends is always a delight. In this array of vegetables I was experimenting with Rajma and Black Chana and then with Jackfruit. Sadly that I could not quite get the taste for the jackfruit. The assembled thali was delicious and thoroughly enjoyed.
The black chickpea by the way is high in protein and has a low glycemic index. Sprouting them for snacks is also a great option.
Rajma with kala chana
Nadru in yoghurt sauce
Jack fruit cooked in curry leaves
I will leave you with the Rajma recipe as you can find the others on my previous blogposts.
Soak 2 cups of red kidney beans and 3/4 cup of Black chana overnight.
Pressure cook both along with whole red chili and ginger slices for about 10 mins.
Coarse grind one medium red onion and one small shallot.
Fry the onions in 2 tablespoon of oil until the mixture turns darker color
Add 2 tbsp garlic ginger paste, 1 tsp red chilis, 1 tsp tumeric, 1 tbsp coriander powder, 1 tsp cumin powder and salt to taste.
Fry the spice for a minute and add 1 cup of crushed peeled tomatoes. I uses Organic canned tomatoes but the choice is your, you can flash boil wholes tomatoes, peel and crush.
Add the beans along with the liquid and cook for about 30 minutes. In the last 10 mins add 1 tsp each of dry ginger powder (soonth) and 1 tsp of dry fennel powder (saunf). Top with cilantro and lime juice.