The Bottle - Green

Niramish Lau - er Ghonto



While on vacations whoever we meet ( especially those from the western world ) often envy the sunny, clear blue skies, a patent of the tropical climate of India. Something which we have known since a child, " Grass always seems greener on the other side " seems so true now. Because starting from mid March and continued till October when the scorching sun on the streets leave us dehydrated, the snow - laden mountains is what we can only hallucinate when we open the freezer door and wait for that cold puff to hit us right on the face.

Summers in different parts of our country are as diversified as our motherland's culture and traditions. One will be dripping wet because of the extreme humidity in the coastal areas while the dry dusty hot winds in the capital plays with the cooling mechanism of the body giving you heatstroke. Naturally taking care of your diet becomes a matter of prime importance during these days. Vegetables like kumro ( pumpkin), korola ( bitter gourd ), lau ( bottle gourd ), potol (pointed gourd ), jhinge ( ridge gourd) becomes a part of everyday menu, irrespective of the fact whether you like it or not. When you have a daunting mother yelling at you since childhood to eat your veggies right, you seldom have any other choice. But what seemed to be a dutiful task to eat as a kid, gradually developed into a lovable acquired taste as I grew up.

Every Bengali meal at home used to have at least two vegetable side dish, one as bhaja ( fried ) like Begun Bhaja and another like a Chocchori or a spicy Aloo - Potol torkari ( Potato - Pointed gourd curry ) or a nutty Kumror Chokka ( a pumpkin mish - mash ) or a cool and soothing Lau - Ghonto ( a bottle gourd mix ) as a healthy accompaniment of the multi - course lunch menu.

All of the vegetarian dishes I mentioned have a non - vegetarian sibling added up with some Chingri ( shrimps ) or Maacher muro ( fish - heads ) which are equally delectable. But, I being me, often run out of the fishy parts making Chingri Malaikari or Kaanta Chocchori and thus remain left with only the vegetarian options. To be honest, today I fell short of another ingredient, boris ( sun dried urad dal dumplings ) used generally for the vegetarian substitute, which I already used all up in Shaak Bhaja last week. But, when its almost 40 degree Celsius in early April and you have that beautiful pale green thing calling out to you from the vegetable tray of the refrigerator, you give in. Interestingly, it turned out to be excellent, even without the boris. Therefore, I realised falling short of a few ingredients should not discourage you to prepare something which you are craving for. Get creative, who knows you might come up with something really special out of the ordinary !!

Niramish Lau - Ghonto, a little bit on the sweeter side turns out ecstatic if done ordinarily. No excessive use of spices to irritate your digestive system it does have a soothing effect on you in the summers. You can add the boris if you want but since I happily let go of it this one time, I might not require them again. Hence, next time you return home from office drenched in your own perspiration, prepare this lau - er ghonto which would not even take adh - ghonta to prepare.

Ingredients
  • Bottle - gourd / lau - 500 grams. Pealed and grated. Alternatively you can cut it into small dices too.
Lau peeled and grated

  • Tomato - 1 cut into small pieces
  • Potato ( optional ) - 1 cut into small pieces
  • Peas - a fistful ( some which I saved in the freezer from winter months )

Ingredients

  • Gota Garam Masala ( bay leaf / tejpata - 1, cardamom / elaichi - 2 burst open, cinnamon / dalchini - around 2 inches )
  • Dried red chilli - 1
  • Green chilli - 1 cut into small pieces
  • Turmeric powder - 1 teaspoon
  • Cumin powder - 1/2 teaspoon
  • Salt according to taste
  • Mustard oil - 2 teaspoon
  • Garam Masala powder ( You can dry roast and grind the ingredients or can just use a readymade one from the market ) - a pinch
  • Gur / Sugar ( according to taste )
Procedure
( I have used a pressure cooker which would allow me to complete the task within minutes. Do use the normal kadhai if you have the liberty of time and energy ).
  • Heat the oil in a pressure cooker. Add the dried red chilli along with the garam masala.


Tempering the oil with the gota garam masala
  • Once they start spluttering put in the lau and potatoes and stir everything together to mix with the oil.

The lau and the aloo

  • Cover the cooker with a steel plate and let rest for around 3 minutes over low flame.
  • Remove the plate and add the turmeric and cumin powder along with the salt. Bring in the tomatoes. Increase the flame to medium high. Notice the gourd release its water.
Spices and tomatoes

  • Its time to add the peas and the green chilli. Mix everything and put on the lid of the cooker.
Peas right in

  • Just 1 whistle, wait for the cooker to release the steam and open the lid. Add the gur / sugar and garam masala powder.

Sight after you open the cooker

The garam masala powder and the gur

  • You can adjust the jhol ( gravy ). I like a little fluid having that sweet garam masala flavours. You can completely dry it out too. Check the seasonings to your liking and you are done.

That beautiful view !!! Indulge..


Lau - er Ghonto is ready to be served with some plain white rice or even some rotis. But in summers making rice always seem to be an easy option for me. Hopefully this would encourage the idea of having a wholesome meal to relax the tummy, done effortlessly in the flaming kitchen during the burning summer weather !!!






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