Thursday, June 07, 2012

Lau er Malaikari -- not by andaaz

Like 99.99% of middle class Indian Parents my parents have or at least had an unswerving faith in education. They also had an almost blind belief in the Indian education system and honestly in the late 70's when I started school it was not such a bad one. I mean yes it did not allow exploring or free thinking but it provided wholesome disciplined learning and that suited me fine. I was never the kind to drop out and start Facebook after all.


My Mother never forced me to study in so many words, neither did she send me for tuition or spank me with a haatpakha if I refused to do homework. However it was somehow understood that the only thing I was expected to do reasonably well was study, academically and rank at least amongst the first three in class. I was one of those boring, obedient kind of child who would rather study school books than study the lifestyle of an ant and so the deal suited me fine. It probably helped that I also could read as many fictional novels under that pretext.

To make it easier for me and also maybe because Ma stayed home and had some sort of help, very little was expected of me regarding household chores. Of course there were set things I did but nothing major and hardly anything in the kitchen."Ekhon porashuno korar shomoy", she would insist that this was a time for studying.

My Ma did not think cooking was something that needed to be taught early on. She believed it was a skill anyone could pick up when the time was right and according to her there was a lifetime left for me to learn those. In absence of Food Network and amidst drudgery of home-cooking she clearly did not put a lot of value to it. I guess she liked it given that she was always cooking one thing or the other, setting up 2 kinds of breakfast and a minimum of 4 dishes for dinner, experimenting and never delegating a meal to a cook. But what I mean is she never thought "cooking food at home" was an important thing. Nothing that demanded accolades, appraisals and a year end bonus. In those times phrases like "Cooking is therapeutic" or "Cooking brings me close to home" were not flung around freely.It was not really a choice, rather a necessity, something you did to feed family. There was no getting away from it. Period. If you loved it good for you, if not bad for the family.

So  I got away with cooking maggi in almost raw mustard oil at 12 and was heavily applauded by Baba for making a simple cup of tea at 13. Cooking was not expected of me.

Food though was something I loved and was often chided for my finicky tastes. My kaku, uncle had once said that I should get married to a rich restauranteur because though I would never want to cook myself, I preferred to eat well and in my own terms.


But as they say "Life comes a full circle" and there came a time in life when it was cooking that became worthy enough for me to spend a major chunk of my time and energy for. And wonder, wonder I even liked it. As my Ma had said it wasn't too hard to pick up either, if you kept an eager mind.

When I first started my blog I don't think I even mentioned it to my parents. It was a minor thing. He..e..l..l..o it was about cooking. Home cooking at that. They would think "What was so great about it", I thought. But because I wrote about my daughter I gave my Dad the link to read up anecdotes about his granddaughter when they were thousand miles away. It was just one more means for connecting in the modern world.


Soon they got hooked and they would now read the blog often, if not regularly. Baba would sit in front of his desktop later at night, the phone would be off the hook, the wire connected for dial-in and over a slow ethernet connection they would read whatever part of the blog decided to load. Okay, I might be romanticizing and he might actually be checking Facebook instead of reading my darn blog.

My Ma would discuss recipes that I had blogged or could blog. She would sometimes cook something from the blog and tell me so. Of course 90% of the recipes there were hers so I am not sure why she would do that. Maybe to make me feel good or something.

I would discuss some of the e-mails, readers sent, with them.Baba would share pics of the vegetable market he had  taken with the blog in mind. 

But my Ma never wrote a recipe for the blog for the simple reason that she does not believe in boundaries of cups, teaspoons and tablespoons. While cooking she never measures, always relying on her perfect sense of andaaz, her fingers trusted to pick up the right pinch. I mean which Indian home cook measures their ginger, and it was okay. If she told me ektu jire..I cooked it at home and replaced ektu with 1 tsp only if I was to blog. Else I too relied on my "pinch". A week or so back I told her that what with the work on the book and the impending summer vacation I don't get time to update the blog as often as I liked and it would be nice if she send me post ready recipes.

"But I don't you", she panicked.

 "Err..well you could. It doesn't have to be precise to 3 digits after the decimal but anything to give an idea.", I said.


Yesterday, with a "ping" an e-mail landed in my mailbox. The subject said "Lau er Malaikari" -- Bottlegourd cooked in Coconut Milk. and the body had the recipe written in Bangla with the cinnamon measured to an inch. It was a recipe Ma had seen on TV and tried at home. There was a picture to boot. It was overwhelming to say the least. I have come a long way but so has my Mother. From "ektu Darchini" to Darchini -- 1", it has been a long walk.

That single status on FB got more likes than even my Book announcement. Thank you so much for this and though I rarely say corny lines in public, Thank You Ma and yes you too Baba.


Lau er Malaikari -- Bottlegourd in coconut Milk


1. Lau/Bottlegourd --  dumo dumo kore kata/cubed 4 cups ( 24/ 25 cubes ).

2. Onion 1- paste kora. Add couple of green chili to this if you like it hot.

3. Choto elaichi/ Green Cardamom - 4

4. Dalchini/Cinnamon  - 1" inch

5. Labanga/Clove - 4/5

6. Ginger paste -  1 table spoon.

7. Tejpata - 1

8. Red chili - 2.
9. Coconut Milk - 1 cup
10. Sugar -2 tea spoon
 11. Salt - to your taste

12.Vegetable Oil -- for cooking
13. Ghee -- 1 tsp to drizzle at the end.
Prathame karai te sada tel ( oil ) debe, garam hole ote tejpata ,sukno lanka, garam masala phoron debe. Tarpore onion paste & sugar  diye ektu fry korbe. Tarpore ote lau ta diye fry korbe, gas sim kore. Ebar ote salt diye dhaka ( lid ) diye dao. Lau sedhho ( boil ) hoe gele ote ginger paste diye debe.Ebar ektu nere niye ( stir ) ote coconut milk mix kore, abar ektu dhaka diye rakhbe. Tarpore ektu makha makha  kore gas theke nabiye nebe. Opor theke ektu Ghee diye serve korbe.


Heat Oil in a wok. Temper the oil with tejpata, dry red chili and the whole garam masala( cardamom, clove and cinnamon)

Next add onion paste and fry with a tsp of sugar. When there is no raw smell of onion add the cubed lau and saute at low heat.

Add salt, cover and let the lau cook .

Once the lau is done add the ginger paste and fry for a minute. Add the coconut milk and let the gravy simmer and come to a boil. The dish will have a clinging gravy and when that consistency is reached switch off heat. Drizzle little ghee on it and serve with rice.

Some other blogs where parents share space with their blogger offspring 

Kalyan's FinelyChopped 

Shilpa's Aayis Recipes 

Nag's Edible Garden

Mandira's Ahaar  -- with podcasts from her parents


  1. lauer payes kheteo khub bhalo hoy

  2. Will try this sometime,,,lauki in coconut milk is new for me,,thanks for the recipe,,and ya luved the post too,.

  3. Loved the recipe, going to try over the weekend :)
    Lau-Posto try korechi kintu eta aro interesting :) thanks a lot for sharing...

  4. will defi give this try...looks to be yum and my hubby is not v fond of hopefully he will start liking it after tasting this one...

  5. Kakima is super sweet to have done this recipe so precisely :)...amazing write up Sandeepa....reminded me of my own childhood days :)...will try the recipe soon :)

  6. Kakima is super sweet to have done this recipe so precisely :)...amazing write up Sandeepa....reminded me of my own childhood days :)...will try the recipe soon :)

  7. Kakima is super sweet to have done this recipe so precisely :)...amazing write up Sandeepa....reminded me of my own childhood days :)...will try the recipe soon :)

  8. Kakima is super sweet to have done this recipe so precisely :)...amazing write up Sandeepa....reminded me of my own childhood days :)...will try the recipe soon :)

  9. Fridge e du packet coconut milk pore ache ... ekta lau anlei eta banabo ... nischoi.
    Ki shundor likhecho Sandeepa ... porei maa r kache bari jete icche korche.

  10. This is such a sweet post Sandeepa di..reminds me of my childhood days and the recipe also seems to be very nice :)

  11. Nice post. Become unused to the 5-course bong meals. What is this supposed to be? An entree? or a replacement for dal?

  12. so sweet of your mom sandeepa. ami to akhono measurement jiggesh korle maa er kache bokuni khai. tumi banale ei dish ta for another lauly family lunch?

  13. Brought tears to my eyes(sorry if I am sounding mushy)... and yes the recipe is good. I am spending this summer researching different bengali vegetable recipes which more than often includes lau. So this is quite usefull to me. Please convey my thanks and regards to your parents and thanks to you too for writing the piece.

    ভালো থেকো :)

  14. Sandeepa, that is so darn fantastic. I love your mom and dad.That vegetable market/stall could have been transported to my hometown in the deep south and it would look the same.

    I am not that much in luv with lau but the curry looks so good I will give it a try.

  15. wowo you were in top three, i wish i was like you.
    Isn't it lovely that your parent shave such a huge intrest in your blog.
    My mom was not a computer person like lot of her generation so she knew i had a blog and when she was in my sis place sis used to show her my blog and only thing mom was always surprised is that i made all the food myself as i never cooked at home.
    Lover this veg but never had this way looks super yumm.

  16. It's a great feeling to have your Mom / Dad support you through this. I started blogging some months ago and ever since I've started, I have my parents giving me recipe ideas, suggestions on how to capture photos. It's great to have them involved as just like you, most of my recipes are actually my Moms'.

  17. @Sandeepa: tomar lekha pore bhishon chotobela mone pore write beautifully....carry on!
    Ami jokhon blog shuru kori tokhon amio bhabini "rojkar ranna" hoye gelei camera niye chobi tulbo...main aim was to write anecdotes about Arno...but now I really feel good about it....
    and the scene about sending the link to parents is EXACTLY same at my also says she used my sure to make me feel better!!

  18. Cooking is not measurement like baking, rely to our senses :) My mom gave only ingredients- at the beginning i had problem to post recipes with tsp and tbsp.
    That is great ur parents follow ur blog . I only show them when i visit my place. They are not compu savy!
    At the early stage of cooking I use to ask recipes, now she is asking me :)
    Love the curry in coconut milk- warm welcome to ur mom :)

  19. bongmom, ma/baba ke encourage koro, onek onek recipe/photo pathate, tumu use koro na koro. amader moto family eto dispersed across the world, as time goes, only these smritis will be the wall separating you from depression. I have lost both my parents and miss this sort of interaction every day. I absolutely love that you included the bengali recipe too. and i love the red-heeled socks of the lady in the yellow sari in the first photo - gaye kono chador nei kintu paye moja :-)

  20. Such an adorable post! Almost everything resonates with me..right from the education part to the "andaaz"..hahha
    My Ma too does the same thing and to confess me too!

    I love cooking over baking esp. because it gives me that freedom..but with my blog now..I have to measure everything too..*Sigh*

    Thanks to Kakima for the lovely recipe :)

  21. Somany fresh veggies. Very nice pictures taken.

  22. Amazing write up Sandeepa. First time to your blog, so simple and delicious post. Thanks for sharing. I am Sanoli Ghosh from

  23. Khob hi darun lekha hoyeche..mon bhorey gelo..r pics aro bhalo..makes me nostalgic....eyi recipe ta noton and sounds so delicious..Thanks for sharing it with us..convey my regards to mashima..tell her she is so adorable for sharing her recipe here..lovely..hugs and smiles

  24. loved reading your post! simply loved it. lots of emotions and layers! Loved the lou er malaikari idea!

  25. Sandeepa,

    I do not really know where to start or where do I end...The post brought up a series of moments up in my mind.In my schooldays in Kolkata, my Mom like many others(perhaps) never thought food or cooking to be(or should be) the central point of interest for any middle class educated family. It was expected, a child must study and study hard, as education is the only GOLDEN key to success.

    My mother was never fond of cooking, and still she is not. In fact her motherhood statement to divert focus from food used to be ' We eat to live and not live to eat'. Hence food at home was supposed to be basic, Bengali, no fuss and definitely healthy and easy to cook.

    But my paternal Grandmom was a great cook,and even today, 33 yrs after she entered the kitchen for the last time, I still miss taste of her 'mocha', 'mishti polao', 'narkel naaru' etc etc. I was not fortunate enough to taste nonveg delicacies prepared by her, but even with simplest of ingredients she used to cook up wonders. I cook my fish dishes her way, the very 'Barishali' way.

    But the two persons to whom I am immensely grateful for this evergrowing passion for food of mine are my husband and my mother in law. My husband is a foodie, but is often very closed on 'variations' or my so called 'my -takes'. My MIL on the other hand is an excellent cook and has an immense eagerness to learn new recipes, tries out variations, and is happy to cook. If some day I decide to do create a family cookbook, it would never be complete without her inputs for sure.

    1. yes, I think I owe it to the husband too for learning to cook better. My Mother is a good cook and she likes it too but I guess she thought it was mundane and there are things more important than cooking

  26. Hi, I found your blog through The Lady 8 Home. It sounds like you had a lovely childhood with very caring parents. Amazing how you could only make a cup of tea at 13! It's lovely that your parents are so supportive of your blog.

  27. Sandeepadi,
    tomar choto-belakar kotha pore mone holo jeno nijer kotha porchi. Amader jonno ek-i jinish chilo, "bhalo porashonay" hole aar kichu lagbe na. I think I probably made my first cup of tea when I was either 13 or 14, ekhon mone nei. but eta mone aache je shobai khubi impressed chilo ;)

    Tomar blog-ta shotti oshadharon, tomar ma-r reciper moto!


  28. Mirror mirror on the wall, is that someone else's childhood on the blog?!!!! :-)
    Great write up, very touching! Your Ma's recipe is very sweetly measured and written, and the pics of the sabji market are a good accompaniment!

  29. Tried your mums recipe. Had to of course and it turned out yum as expected. Our thanks to her for her contribution. Lovely post echoing I suppose most of our growing up stages.

  30. Sandeepa, This post brought a smile, our parents never seize to surprise us do they ? I am going to make this tomorrow.I got all the stuff today :) I will stick to the measurement.

  31. I would never try and take out coconut too lazy..but the write up before the recipe made me smile..Muah to your parents and to you too :) big hugs

  32. Such a cute post Sandeepa, loved it. I look forward to more such posts from your mom.

  33. Sandeepa, your post brought up so many memories... and really one of the reasons I started recording the podcasts was to keep some of them. Lau ta darun hoyeche, ma ke bolbo weekend e ami lau banachi :) bhalo theko.

  34. Fantastic! And lovely food and photos on this blog :D

  35. Amazing writeup. It just reminded us so many good memories of childhood. Thanks for such a lovely post. I am from Noakhali, Bangladesh. We are very fond of coconut milk. In Noakhali, specially south part of Bangladesh we use coconut in cooking a lot, :) and lau is so favorite as vegetable.

    Thanks for the nice post.

  36. Sandeepa, how sweet of mom! I am so trying this with the next lauki I buy. Which should be next week - we are bang in the middle of lauki and kaddu season after all!

  37. Making this yet again tonight :) From all of us, thanks tons for making our Saturday dinner awesome :D

  38. And post dinner update, Baba liked it so much he said ektu rekhe daao aami kalke bhat diye aabar khabo :P Thankyou thankyou thankyou :) :D <3

  39. daaarunn recipe... khub bhalo khete hoyechhe!!!

  40. daruun recipe.... taste is just fatafti!!

  41. keno jani na etodin ei recipe ta amar chokh ey poreni. kaam prothom dekhlam ar try korlam. khub sundor ar onyo rokomer hoyechhe. in fact amar chhele ra ei prothom eto khushi hoye lau khelo ar amar bor-ero bhalo legechhe. onekdin por bangla-y lekha recipe dekhe ranna korlam, khub bhalo laaglo ar tomar translation-o chomotkaar. thank you tomake ar masima ke :-)


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