Friday, July 20, 2007

Summer vegetables

My north Indian friends typically tend to hate gourds. Summer in Delhi heralds the onset of poor vegetables, though the fruit variety is amazing. By and large, the menu gets restricted to ghia, tori, tinda from the gourd family - far from the most glamourous vegetables. In keeping with my strangely pleb tastes in veggies, I actually like these vegetables, especially the way my mother cooks them. She typically makes them south-Indian style, with a spicy curry-powder, which makes even bland tinda perk up a bit.

Unfortunately, I don't have a good memory for south Indian spice mix recipes and it becomes a pain to keep calling my mom each time I have to make it. I was casting about for a different way to cook either ghia or tinda, and came up with this recipe a few years back which is quite popular around our house. I wanted something that (unusually for me) does not use tomatoes or garlic - my holy grails of veg cooking - maybe it was like one of those Who dares Wins targets I set for myself. Here goes:

1 kilo tindas or 1 ghia - diced into approx. 1 cm pieces
1-2 red onions, minced or grated
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup natural yoghurt, whisked to smoothness
kasoori methi - dried fenugreek leaves
1 tsp cumin
2-3 green chillies, finely chopped
1 tbsp oil
pinch turmeric
1 tsp sugar
salt to taste

  1. Heat the oil in a wok

  2. Put in a pinch of turmeric and wait for the 'raw' smell to disappear - about 1 second.

  3. Add the cumin when the oil is hot, and cook until toasty

  4. Add the kasoori methi and stir for a couple of seconds

  5. Add the onions and the chillies and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are turning brown

  6. Add the ghia/ tinda and stir to mix. Cook for 7-8 minutes until the ghia is cooked through (should be soft all the way through)

  7. Turn the heat down to medium and pour in the milk and yoghurt. Add the salt and sugar too. Keep stirring until the liquid is almost absorbed. Some of the milk-yoghurt mix will curdle into small, paneer-like bits, which is fine.

Serve hot with rotis or dal and rice.

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