Bhat Kerela sabzi

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Many names, one tasty vegetable.

My mother cooks this prickly gourd in a very conventional manner, a method that has been followed in Assamese kitchens for generations. Years earlier when there were no gas stoves or induction panels, the teasle gourds were made on open flames and cow dung stoves. My mother says it tasted even more delicious when cooked the traditional way. The aroma of the wooden flames would seep into the dish giving it that extra zing and flavour.

 

But materialism has spoilt us and after losing ourselves for a moment in reveries of old, we turn to the task at hand.

Ingredients –

  • Bhat Kerela or Teasle gourd – 700 grams
  • Potato – 1 large, sliced into long wedges
  • Onions – 2 large, sliced
  • Paanch Puron – 1 teaspoon (see image)
  • Green chilli – 2 whole
  • Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Cumin powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil – 2 tablespoons
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We are looking to cut the gourds and the potato in wedges like these.
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Paanch Puron – This spice mix consists of fenugreek seeds, nigella seeds, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds and fennel seeds in equal proportions

Method –

  • Slice the gourds into long wedges like the potatoes. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wok or a deep frying pan. It’s better to use a non-stick pan for this recipe. That way it absorbs all the heat and turns nice and crispy.
  • Add the paanch puron to the pan. Let the spices fry a little so that the oil absorbs the flavour, but be careful to not burn them.
  • Now add the onions and green chillies and fry them till the onions start to brown a little. After this, add the gourd and the potato pieces together to the pan.
  • Add the turmeric powder and season the pan with some salt. Cover the pan with a lid and let the vegetable reduce a little.
  • Keep the flame on high and keep stirring very briskly so that the gourd does not burn. Keeping the heat high will brown the vegetables and crisp them and held absorb all the spices.
  • Carry on stirring on high heat for 25 minutes. Once the gourds have some brown on their edges, reduce the heat and stir in the cumin powder. Keep stirring on a low flame for another 10 minutes and it is ready.
  • The entire purpose is to turn the gourd crispy. The vegetable has a lot of water and so you can afford to keep the heat high. You can add some more oil towards the end if you think it looks a little dry. Serve it with some rotis or plain rice and daal.

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