September flew by so quickly, and I really dropped behind with my posting. There was a lot happening this month on the home+family front, so I wasn’t spending as much time in the kitchen.
But over the month, I did discover a new favourite vegetable, and a great way to prepare it: ridge gourd (torai in Hindi, peechinga in Malayalam.)
Over the summer, we had to change our diet for medical reasons, eliminating some of our staples like cabbage, spinach and cauliflower. (No, I am not turning into Gwyneth Paltrow or following her elimination diet.) I was getting tired of aubergines, okra and ivy gourd, as well as beans, peas and bell peppers. Ridge gourd I’d often seen at the market, but never picked up. It’s a long snake-like vegetable, with these grooves running down the length. Inside, it’s fleshy and white with white seeds.
For some reason (let’s just call it ignorance, and not bothering to look it up, shall we?) I assumed this vegetable would be bitter. But it’s not. It’s actually quite delicious, and light and healthy too.
- Vitamin C!
- High in fibre!
- Rich in minerals!
And it’s a quick option when you need a curry, stat, and don’t want to bother with soaking or pressure cooking lentils.
There really isn’t much point to showing you what a ridge gourd looks like from the top. I just like the way the cut pieces resemble cogs in a wheel. Cute!
I’m in a masala-grinding phase right now, so I did not use any dry spice powders in this one- not even turmeric. I feel it adds a nice kick to curries, when you grind a wet masala and cook it all together. Based on that, I was browsing recipes and came across one using a peanut-based masala, by Sia of Monsoon Spice. I traded the peanuts for coconut and made it Kerala-style, with curry leaves, coconut oil and green chillies 🙂
I prepared it as a side dish and not a curry to be eaten with rice…though you could add more water to it and serve it up as a curry. Ridge gourd releases quite a bit of liquid on its own, so I added minimal water while cooking- just a splash.
I like a lot of heat so I added 2 cloves of raw garlic to the masala paste along with the green chillies. The more chillies, cilantro and curry leaves you use, the brighter and more verdant it’s going to look- but hold back if you cannot handle too much spice.
RIDGE GOURD IN GREEN COCONUT MASALA/PEECHINGA CURRY (Inspired by Monsoon Spice.)
- 1 large ridge gourd, washed and cut into half-moons
- 1/3 cup grated coconut
- 1 green chilli
- 4-5 curry leaves
- A fistful of fresh cilantro/2 tablespoons worth
- 2 cloves garlic (optional)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil/oil of your choice
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
- Salt to taste
- A pinch of sugar or jaggery (optional)
- A small squeeze of lime juice (optional)
- First, start preparing the masala. In a blender, grind the coconut, chillies, curry leaves, cilantro and garlic in a blender, till it becomes a grainy paste. Set aside.
- Next, heat the oil in a wok. When the oil gets hot, add the mustard seeds and allow them to sputter.
- Then, add in the masala paste and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
- Add in the sliced ridge gourd, a splash of water (about 1-2 tablespoons, more if you want a runnier curry,) salt to taste, a pinch of sugar or jaggery if you wish, and cook, covered, for 10-15 minutes or until the ridge gourd becomes tender.
- Squeeze some lime juice over the top.
- Serve with rice or roti.
Sure, it may not be the most glamorous looking vegetable. But it’s light, healthy and easy to prepare. And when paired with a fiery, flavourful masala, tastes pretty great, too!