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Phulera’s favourite

Updated on: 19 June,2022 07:15 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Nasrin Modak Siddiqi |

Thanks to Panchayat 2, the humble lauki is trending in kitchens around the country. We went scouting for lesser-known recipes

Phulera’s favourite

Lauki ki nazakat


One way for Pradhan Ji (Raghubir Yadav) to keep Sachiv Ji (Jeetendra Kumar) on his side, or so he thinks, is to gift him fresh lauki or bottle gourd from his farm. With the stupendous success of the web series Panchayat Season 2, where these two play central characters, it seems that the vegetable is finally going to get its due—through memes, recipes and the #selfiewithlauki hashtag on the Internet. Recently, actress Neena Gupta, who plays Pradhan Ji’s wife, shared a quick and easy lauki bharta recipe on her Instagram handle.


Chef Meghna Kamdar, who has shared a long list of lauki recipes on her YouTube feed, Meghna’s Food Magic, says, “As kids, I remember how lauki ki sabzi invoked a look on my sister’s face. Now, I understand that doodhi as we call it in Gujarati, has so many health benefits. It helps reduce stress, keeps the heart healthy, aids weight loss and tackles sleep disorder. It helps digestion. My grandma used to tell me that it prevents premature greying of hair, too. I often make lauki soup, lauki moong chilla and even no-fry lauki kofta.”

From North West Frontier Province; present day Punjab Lauki ki nazakat


This popular recipe from North-West Frontier cuisine is trending at Soma at the Grand Hyatt. Sous chef Jhupa Rijal explains, “Stuffed bottle gourd mash, nuts, fresh cottage cheese, pomegranate seeds, royal cumin simmered in a yoghurt khoya-almond based gravy and silver leaf. It is best served with flaky warki paratha. The importance of adopting lauki into regional cuisine with local ingredients is important in the context of keeping one’s heart healthy through local produce.”

Lauki ki nazakat is a North-west frontier favourite and is best garnished with silver leaf and fresh cream for special occasions. Pic/Anurag Ahire
Lauki ki nazakat is a North-west frontier favourite and is best garnished with silver leaf and fresh cream for special occasions. Pic/Anurag Ahire

Ingredients

For the stuffing
 1/2 cup cottage cheese, grated
 1/2 cup mashed lauki
 1/2 cup khoya
 1/2 tbsp almond
 1 tbsp cashews 
 1 tbsp chironji
 1 tbsp fresh pomegranate seeds
 1 tsp green chilli, chopped
 1/2 tsp garam masala
 1/4 tsp cumin powder
 1/4 tsp asafoetida powder
 1/4 tsp white pepper powder
 1/4 tsp lemon juice
 1/2 tbsp cheese
 1 silver leaf 

For the gravy
 1 tbsp ghee
 1/2 tbsp oil
 1/2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
 3-4 black pepper
 2 green cardamom
 2 tbsp cashew paste
 1 tbsp khoya
 1/4 cup curd
 1/2 tbsp fried onion
 2 tbsp fresh tomato puree
 1/2 tsp coriander powder
 1/2 tsp yellow chilli powder
 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
 Salt to taste
 2 tbsp fresh cream
 2 drops sweet kewra attar
 1 tbsp fresh coriander chopped

Method
Wash and peel a small lauki, remove the pith and blanch for five minutes. Put it into ice water for a minute. Mix all the stuffing ingredients and stuff the blanched lauki. Heat ghee in a pan and shallow fry the lauki till slightly browned. Drain it on absorbent paper. Cut the stuffed lauki into small roundels.  Heat a pan, roast black pepper, green cardamom, and cloves in oil, add ginger garlic paste and fry for a minute. Now add cashew paste, khoya, curd and tomato puree and fry for a minute. Add crushed browned onions, tomato puree, a cup of water and cook for 10 minutes. Add coriander powder, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt and a half cup of water and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add fresh cream and kewra essence and cook for another minute. 
To serve, arrange the stuffed lauki roundels on a serving plate. Pour the gravy on top. Garnish with silver leaf and fresh cream.

From Gujarat: Lauki muthiya

Meghna Kamdar shows how muthiya, a Gujarati snack, can be made with very little oil and lots of steam. “It is so healthy, that in every Gujarati household, muthiya has various versions and is made just about every week,” she adds.

Ingredients

300 gm bottle gourd
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2-3 fresh chillies, finely chopped
1 spoon sugar
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1 cup wheat/multigrain atta
2 tbsp oats or semolina
2 tbsp chickpeas flour
A few sprigs of coriander leaves
1 small piece of grated ginger
Salt to taste
Fresh lime juice

Chef Meghna Kamdar gives the Gujarati muthiya  a lauki twist
Chef Meghna Kamdar gives the Gujarati muthiya a lauki twist

For the tempering
2 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp asafoetida
1 tsp white sesame seeds
Few fresh curry leaves

Method
Grate bottle gourd only up to where you can see the seeds. Mix in with the rest of the ingredients (except oil) and make dough. Divide in equal portions and form a cylindrical shape muthiya. In a deep pan, boil water and place a strainer, greased with oil. Ensure that water doesn’t touch the strainer. Place the muthiya and let steam for 20-25 minutes. Check with a knife; it should come out clean. Let it cool and then cut into roundels. In a pan, heat oil and let mustard seeds crackle. Then add asafoetida, white sesame seeds and curry leaves. Add muthiya and toss well. Cook for 5-7 minutes to get a crispy layer. Garnish with coriander leaves and drizzle lime.

From Lucknow Shahi zaafrani lauki kofta pulao

Executive Chef at Novotel Mumbai, Juhu, Jerson Fernandes, says, “One of the simplest, yet interesting recipes made with the humble lauki is the most sought after signature recipe in my vegetarian section. The delicate flavours of the lauki kofta marry the richness of the saffron-infused slow-cooked rice perfectly well, making it one of my favourite recipes learnt from one of my Lucknowi friends way back in the early days of my apprenticeship.”

Shahi zaafrani lauki kofta pulao served in a blanched and grilled scooped lauki centre. Pic/Satej Shinde
Shahi zaafrani lauki kofta pulao served in a blanched and grilled scooped lauki centre. Pic/Satej Shinde

Ingredients
For the kofta
 1/2 grated lauki
 2 tbsp roasted besan
 1 tsp cornflour
 1 tbsp chopped green coriander
 1 tbsp chopped onions
 1/2 tsp chilli powder
 1/2 tsp coriander powder
 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
 2 tbsp yoghurt for binding
 1/2 tsp salt
 500ml oil for frying

For the pulao

1 cup basmati rice
 1 tbsp ghee
 1/2 cup hot milk
 1 cup water
 1/2 tsp saffron strands
 1/2 sliced onion
 1 tsp chopped garlic
 1 tbsp whole garam masala
 1 tbsp chopped cashew nuts
 1 tbsp chopped almonds
 1 tbsp raisins
 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
 1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
 6-8 mint leaves for garnish
 1 no. silver leaf for garnish
 Salt to taste

Method
Soak saffron strands in milk, and soak rice in water and keep aside for 30 minutes. Mix all the kofta ingredients to form small round balls. Fry them in oil; store aside. 

Heat ghee in a pan, add the whole garam masala, let it bloom, add chopped garlic and onions, and sauté until translucent. 

Add the drained rice and fry it in the same ghee for a few minutes until toasted. Add cardamom, nutmeg powder, chopped nuts, and dry roast for a few minutes. Add water, salt, and saffron to the rice and slow cook on dum using a tawa at the bottom for 25 to 30 minutes. 

Once cooked, mix the lauki koftas to the saffron rice, garnish with saffron, silver leaf, dry fruits, and mint leaves. 

Serve in a blanched and grilled scooped lauki centre along with accompaniments of your choice.

From Maharashtra Bhoplyachya salancha thecha

Rieethaa Dhamne, a food and sustainability blogger living in the UK, says she is always looking to bridge the culinary gap between the food she grew up eating in India and the produce that’s grown locally in her adopted country. “Simple rustic cooking inspired by my Maharashtrian farming roots is what helps me stay sane. Growing up within the bounds of an Air Force Station in Pune where food was invariably influenced by a myriad cultures from across India, and bottle gourd made a regular appearance in the form of ‘lauki ki subzi’ with a Maharashtrian twist or as added to sambar or in the bhoplyache thalipeeth.

In my endeavour to minimise food waste, especially with something as exotic as bottle gourd to a UK resident, I also like to put its peel to good use. The quintessential Maharashtrian thecha gets a makeover whenever I have leftover bottle gourd peel. It turns into a zero-waste doodhi bhoplyachya salancha thecha that can be stored in a dry airtight jar at room temperature for a month or for longer in the fridge. Enjoy this thecha as a savoury accompaniment in a thali or even with varan bhaat [dal-rice], it adds a subtle texture to every mouthful. And its flavour wonderfully complements the dal.”

Ingredients
 50 gm bottle gourd peel (grated)
 3 green chillies
 20 gm fresh coriander 
 3 cloves of garlic 
 5 tbsp sunflower oil
 1 tsp mustard seeds
 1 tbsp sesame seeds
 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
 â…› tsp asafoetida
 1/4 tsp amchoor powder
 2 tbsp roasted and ground peanut powder 
 2 tbsp grated dry coconut
 1 tsp caster sugar (optional)
 Salt to taste

Method
Roast the grated bottle gourd peel in two tablespoons of oil in a kadhai over a medium flame stirring continuously till light golden brown. Set aside. Grind the coriander, green chillies, and garlic to a paste and saute in the same kadhai for 2-4 minutes. Add sesame and roast further, followed by turmeric before tipping in the roasted bottle gourd and grated coconut. Cook everything together until light brown. Finally, add peanut powder, and season with salt (and sugar) to taste. Continue cooking until the coconut and bottle gourd turns crisp and golden brown. This could take a couple of minutes. Store in a dry airtight jar.

Make it meetha

Lauki kheer
Lauki kheer

Lauki halwa and barfi are popular sweets in many north Indian households, but a lauki kheer is an easier variant that you can rustle up in an instant. Chef Raghvendra Singh, executive chef, Meetha, says that even a beginner in the kitchen can make the dish. “Just make sure the lauki is tender and not bitter. Rinse, peel and grate 200 gm lauki, dip it in water for few minutes. Strain, then sauté it in three tablespoon of ghee on medium flame for 10-12 minutes. Add half litre of buffalo milk, let it simmer, add five tablespoons of sugar, a pinch of saffron strands and cardamom powder. Keep stirring. Cool it and garnish with charoli, almond, pistachio and saffron. And you are done.”

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