I discovered ridge gourd only after moving to south India. The first time that I bought it, my motivator was curiosity – I had no idea how this vegetable, which looked a cross between sponge gourd and bitter gourd, would be cooked, or what it would taste like. Pushcart vendors outside my apartment stocked ridge gourd in heaps, and it seemed to be the freshest, most abundantly available vegetable on sale. One day I walked up to a vendor, pointed and tried to ask him in gestures (I did not know Kannada) to name the vegetable. In response, he swiftly wrapped two ridge gourds, held out the package to me, and named the price.
And so I returned home, ridge gourd package in hand, and typed into Google image search: "long green Indian vegetable with spikes". Google did not disappoint – I found not just the name but also many ways to cook ridge gourd.
My usual go-to recipes for ridge gourd are those I’ve picked from friends – ridge gourd potato curry with poppy seed paste and ridge gourd moong dal. A recent favorite is chef Harpal Singh Sokhi’s recipe of ridge gourd tomato curry that I once saw on the TV show Turban Tadka.I can’t trace the recipe online now and hadn’t taken notes – not sure how close this is is to the original: I must have reduced the quantity of oil if nothing else :-) . But this tastes great to me as it is. No endless list of ingredients, this recipe relies on few, intense flavors for its win.
- Ridge Gourd – 2*
- Tomatoes – 3
- Jaggery – 1/2 teaspoon
- Salt – to taste
- Turmeric powder – a pinch
- Red chili flakes – 1 teaspoon
- Mustard seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
- Asafoetida powder – 1/2 teaspoon
- Mustard oil – 2 teaspoons
[*] The size of a medium ridge gourd would be about a foot long and 1.5 inch in diameter. Adjust the quantities in the recipe if using smaller or bigger ridge gourds. Make sure the ridge gourds are firm and fresh – the ones with the sharper ridges are better.
How To Make Ridge Gourd Tomato Curry:
Peel the ridge gourd and chop into bite-size pieces.
Puree the tomatoes.
Heat two teaspoons of mustard oil in a pan. When hot, add mustard seeds and when the splutter, add half a teaspoon of asafoetida powder. Soon after, slide in the chopped ridge gourd.
Fold in red chili flakes and turmeric powder with the ridge gourd, and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the tomato puree and salt, stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 7-8 minutes, stirring once in between. Uncover, mix jaggery into the curry and continue to cook for another minute.
Serve hot. Ridge gourd tomato curry makes a fabulous meal with chapatis, a simple yellow dal, salad and raita.