The magic of some recipes lies in exclusion: the dish tastes so good because certain conventional ingredients are knocked off from its making. This recipe of saadi lauki sabzi (simple bottle gourd curry) , passed down from my grandmother’s kitchen, falls in that hallowed category.
Saadi lauki is typically served as a "second" sabzi of an Indian meal; the main sabzi would be a spicier curry like gobi masala or aloo-tamatar. After gorging on Diwali delicacies, I’m sure many of us will be glad of this simple fare :-)
- Bottle gourd – 1 medium (the one used here is about 2.5-inch in diameter, 9-inches long)
- Salt – to taste
- Water – 1.5 cups
- Asafoetida powder – 1/2 teaspoon
- Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
- Mustard oil – 2 teaspoons
Peel the bottle gourd and cut it into small cubes.
Heat the oil in a kadhai. When hot, add asafoetida and mustard seeds.
When the mustard seeds have spluttered, slide in bottle gourd cubes. Sprinkle salt. Stir and cook on medium flame for two minutes.
Add a cup and a half of water – just enough to submerge to bottle gourd cubes.
Don’t add anything else, not even turmeric!
Cook covered on medium flame. Saadi lauki sabzi is done when the bottle gourd cubes are soft but not totally mushy, and the water has dried up. This should take about 15 minutes.
Serve warm and savor the delicate, slightly sweet natural flavor of bottle gourd.
In the picture below: saadi lauki sabzi with chapatis and a tangy potato chutney (recipe coming up soon!)
If you aren’t comfortable with mustard oil, you could replace it with another oil of your choice – say, peanut or vegetable oil.