Monday, April 05, 2021

Lau with Dhonepaata - Lauki in Coriander-Poppy Seed paste

Lau Dhonepata, Bottlegourd Sabzi, Lauki Sabzi

Some days you wake up in the morning on a weekend and your life is so mundane that you sit down with a cup of chai and a foot long bottlegourd. No, you do not do anything new with the bottlegourd, you just chop it! You might also be watching something on your iPad while all the mundane chopping. Something like Bridgerton, which I had been resisting for a while and then finally gave in. Your life seems just more mundane.

You then wonder who were the first people who discovered turmeric and cumin and coriander, and then decided to make a paste of these spices, and add it to flavor their food. Long before wars were fought and new lands discovered, who was the one who said --"Let me add a dash of cumin and a pinch of turmeric to today's dish".

Who were these interesting people? Did they go to debutante balls and ride horses? Did they work in chemistry labs with pipets and glass flasks?

This was not just slapping a piece of meat on a fire and cooking it. This was far more nuanced. Like, who decided to grind certain lentils into a paste, whip them up all airy, then put dollops of that batter to dry in the sun and make Vadis/Boris? They never went to a culinary school or any school and yet they knew all the techniques. In that situation, I would never know to experiment to that rigorous level. At the most, I would pound green chilies and salt and add it to the meat which I would then throw onto the fire. Isn't that sad ?

Frustrated by your lackluster life, with no Duke of Hastings in the horizon, you are hell bent on unleashing your innovative, genius inner soul to unsuspecting family members. So you do best with what you have in hand. A little different combination of spices for the familiar.  So instead of making my usual Lau Chingri or Bori diye Lau, I made a Lau in Coriander-Green Chili -Poppy seed paste. Yeah, big deal. Not. 

But Dhonepaata baata diye Lau tasted very good and different. Not radically different but different enough to jazz up my morning. You must try it.



The tender lau, lauki or bottle gourd with its soothing green skin soothes the eyes in harsh summer and because of its high water content has a cooling effect and so is one of the preferred veggies in the summer months. According to ayurveda, the cooked bottlegourd is cooling, diuretic, sedative and anti­bilious(corrects secretion of bile). It gives a feeling of relaxation after eating it. It is rich in essential minerals and fiber.

Bengalis make a variety of dishes with lau over the summer from Moog Dal Chhora Diye Lau, Doodh Lau with milk and a little sweet in taste, Lau er Malaikari where the bottlegourd is cooked in a rich coconut gravy to the all time favorite Lau Chingri where bottle gourd is cooked with shrimp. The Dhonepaata Lau now got added to that lau repertoire .



Lau with Dhonepaata - Lauki in Coriander Poppy Seed paste



Ingredients

Lau/Lauki/Bottlegourd ~ 3 cups. Peeled and chopped in small cubes

For Paste
Green Chilli ~ 3-4 Green chili
Coriander leaves - 1/2 Cup(loosely packed) fresh coriander leaves
Posto/Poppy seeds - 1 Tbsp
Make a paste with little water.

For Tempering
Kalojeera/Kalonji/Nigella Seeds -- 1/2 tsp
Ginger - 2 tsp grated
Green Chilli - 2 slit

Other 
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Salt - to taste
Sugar - 1 tsp
Mustard Oil - 1 Tbsp

Start Cooking

Heat Mustard oil in a Kadhai/Frying pan
Temper the oil with
1/2 tsp of Kalonji
1 tsp grated Ginger
2 Green Chili

Add the chopped bottlegourd and stir it for a few minutes. Sprinkle salt to taste and a pinch of turmeric powder. Cover and cook until bottle gourd softens. Bottlegourd releases water and the vegetable will cook in its own juice.

Once the lauki/bottlegourd is almost 3/4th cooked, add the coriander-green chili-poppy seed paste. Add 1 more tsp of grated ginger.
Add about 1 tsp of sugar and adjust salt to taste. Sprinkle a little water if necessary.
Mix the spices and the vegetables and cook until the bottlegourd is fully cooked. 

Garnish with some chopped coriander leaves and this light dish is perfect for the summer heat.

Alternate option: For a richer dish, add some grated coconut along with the coriander-poppy seeds


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