Bottle Gourd - Sorakaya/Anapakaya Dappalam
Bottle gourd (Sorakaya/Anapakaya (Telugu), Louki/dudhi (Hindi)) is one of my favorite Indian vegetables. I am always disappointed if this veggie doesn't show up in the Indian store here. Growing up, this was a staple in my home. We had a bottle gourd plant in our kitchen garden. This plant was so easy to grow and it would produce a LOT of gourds each year. We had a very hard time disposing off the gourds :). Usually family, friends and neighbours received these from us. One of my mom's friend used to take a couple of these often from our house and made us a very special "dudhi halwa". It was the most amazing dudhi halwa I had ever tasted to date.
This vegetable is cooked when it is young and tender. When cut open, a young gourd does not have prominent seeds. If this vegetable is too mature, the seeds inside are bigger. When we were kids, we used to patiently collect all the seeds, screw them on to a screwer, sprinkle some salt, pepper roast them over an open fire and eat them. They were truly yummy, or so I thought. I haven't tried doing this in the recent "rememberable" past to remember the taste :).
I make about 5 different kinds of dishes with this vegetable and love all kinds of preperations. My grandmother even made a curry with the outer skin of this vegetable and it was just yummy. I haven't been so lucky here in the U.S to find this veggie, free of any marks on the outer skin so I could use that skin to make the fry curry.
The following is a recipe for one of my favorite sorakaya recipes - sorakaya dappalam.
Dappalam is a cross between sambhar, rasam and pulusu in my opinion. Some dappalam recipes have toor dal in the recipe but my mine doesn't. It just has besan/gram flour/chick-pea flour instead.
- 1 medium size sorakya, peeled and cut into 1 inch slices
- 1 medium onion, cut lengthwise
- 4-5 Indian green chilis, cut lengthwise
- 1 sprig curry leaves, chopped
- 1 inch piece of ginger, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, chopped (optional)
- 1 lime size tamarind soaked in water and juice extracted
- 1/2 tsp turmeric/haldi/pasupu powder
- 1 heaping tbsp rasam powder
- 1 heaping tbsp sambhar powder
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- 1 pinch hing/asafatida powder
- 3 tbsp of besan/chickpea flour/shanaga pindi
- salt, to taste
- chili powder, to taste
- 1 tsp jeera/jeelakarra/cumin seeds
- 1 tsp rai/aavalu/black mustard seeds
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil(EVOO) or your favorite oil
- chopped coriander, handful
- 1 pressure cooker
- Put the pressure cooker on medium heat, add the oil. Add the mustard and jeera seeds until they splutter.
- Add the green chilis, onions and curry leaves. Add the chopped ginger and garlic and the hing or asafatida powder
- Cook until onions are translucent, add the sorakaya/bottle gourd pieces.
- Cook for additional 2-3 minutes or so. Add the turmeric powder.
- Fill the pressure cooker with water, just so all the sorakaya pieces are immersed in the water.
- Cook until 2 whistles.
- While the pressure subsides, take the besan flour in a small dish, pour water little by little to make a smooth, lump free paste out of it.
- After the pressure dies down, open the cooker, add the tamarind juice. Mix well and add more water if needed. This should be of rasam consistency.
- Add the sambhar powder, rasam powder, coriander/dhaniya powder, chili powder (if needed), salt.
- Finally add the besan flour that was mixed with water above and stir.
- Cook until the dappalam boils and is foamy on top. The dappalam thickens because of the addition of the besan flour.
- Turn off the heat, add the cilantro leaves.
Tips: The same recipe can be made with okra (pressure cooking is not needed, as okra cooks well on the stove top).