Friday, July 25, 2014

Everyday subzi: Lau-er shukto or lauki ki doodhwali bengali subzi




Bottle gourd is Lauki in Hindi and it is one of my favourite vegetables. Tender bottle gourd is a delight to cook and eat in summer days and I try and include loads of this gourd for my everyday meals. Finding tender bottle gourd can be cumbersome if you don't know how to choose the tender ones, check this post if you want to know how to choose tender lauki for better tasting lauki ki subzi. Even for this lau-er shukto the tender lauki is best to use. If you are stuck with a hard and mature lauki you better make a raita.


This lau-er shukto recipe looked delicious when I first saw it on a Bengali recipe forum on facebook. So much so that I cooked it almost the next day and was so delighted by the delicate taste of this curry that I ate the entire potful all by myself. The recipe was shared by Dipta Maitra and I have made minor adjustments to suit my taste. He jokingly accused me of harassing the recipe when I suggested I might add paneer to make it a complete meal for myself. I wouldn't mind this punjabification of shukto you see.

According to the discussion about shukto on the Bengali recipe forum, shukto is a curry that includes some bitter taste like karela, bramhi leaves or methi seeds, some ginger paste added in the last and some green chillies. Never to add red chillies and turmeric powder to shukto I learned. I am not complaining.

ingredients 
(2 servings but it made a full meal for me)

one whole medium sized lauki (about 400 gm)
milk 250 ml
salt to taste
ghee 1 tsp
fenugreek seeds 1/2 tsp
green chillies broken 2
fine ginger paste or ginger juice 1 tsp or a little bit more
roasted mustard powder 1/2 tsp (can be roasted quickly and powdered in mortar and pestle)

procedure

Peel and cube the gourd in large sized cubes.
Add the lauki cubes in a pan (kadhai) along with 1/2 cup of water and salt and cook on low flame for about 10 minutes.
Add the milk and cook on medium heat till the vegetable is cooked well.
Now heat the ghee in a ladle and tip in the fenugreek seeds in it. Let the fenugreek seeds get browned and aromatic and pour this hot mix into the cooking curry.
Next to add is the broken chillies and ginger paste. Mix well and simmer for a couple of minutes.
Finish with roasted mustard powder and serve immediately.

This subzi would tempt you to consume more vegetables in a tastier way. So go ahead and cook some lau-er shukto for yourself now. The best suitable accompaniment to this lau-er shukto is plain boiled rice.


I tried this milky lau-er shukto without the roasted mustard powder too and liked it both ways. The interesting thing is, as much as I loved this delicately flavoured milky lau-er shukto, Arvind refused to taste a milky curry as he thought he wont like it. His loss completely.

There is very mild bitterness of methi in this delicate curry and that tastes really interesting. Ginger imparts a lovely depth and roasted mustard powder was a surprise for me in this milk based curry. I actually added more milk than usual and loved the way milk incorporated the flavours of the frugal spices.

May be Arvind would also come around to some lau-er shukto next time I cook this as I am going to repeat this many times now. I even tried it with tinda (apple gourd) but it was not as good as the lauki version. I will keep making the original version of lau-er shukto for sure.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

everyday subzi: guar moongphali ki sookhi subzi | cluster beans and peanuts stir fry




Guar is Cluster beans, also called as guar phali in Hindi. The beans are a developed taste for many but those who like this vegetable, just love it. A lot depends on how you choose the beans when buying as guar can get really hard and fibrous when you pick up mature or stale beans from the market. Look out for slender beans that are tender to touch and shiny in appearance. Guar phali can cooked in many ways, you can stir fry them with chilly garlic paste to make lasuni bhujia or cook them with eggplants with loads of garlic and some hing. A dry curry of guar beans made using a sesame powder is one of our favourite too. Guar dhokli I discovered later and became a favourite too.

Now you know how much I love cluster beans. You can imagine how happy I was to find a quicker way to cook this vegetable and that too when the husband reported that he liked the subzi in his lunch box. This is a sookhi subzi that borders on the territory of a 'stir fry salad', I found it one day on Anita's facebook timeline when she was cooking it and posted a picture. I was so curious I cooked (actually tossed) this curry the very next day and loved it. She later posted this recipe on her blog as well.

I have cooked this one a few times since then, once I added a little shallow fried dry shrimp too, like in this long beans recipe with sambal belacan. But I realised I liked it with peanuts and garlic only, with varying degrees of chilly heat depending on my mood and the summer heat we are living in.


Oh yes, and the recipe involved boiling the chopped guar and mixing it with a coarse powder/paste of the roasted peanuts, garlic and red chillies. Just that.

ingredients

chopped guar (tender cluster beans) 2 cups
roasted peanuts 1/2 cup (or as per taste)
garlic cloves 5-6 (or more if you like)
dry red chillies 3-4 (adjustable)
sesame oil (or any oil you like) 1 tsp
salt 1 tsp

procedure

Add the salt to a cup of water and bring to boil. Dunk the chopped guar in the boiling water and wait till they change colour, it takes about 4-5 minutes for tender guar. Keep the lid on while cooking. Drain and keep aside.

Lightly fry the garlic and chilly in hot oil. Take them out and pound them along with roasted peanuts in a mortar and pestle or in mixie jar, make sure the paste is really coarse.

Mix the paste with boiled guar and serve as desired.

We loved it mixed with plain boiled rice. Peanuts were a bit generous in my recipe so I decided that this will be our simplified balanced meal.

When the peanuts are lesser, I like to add a boiled egg to my plate.


Try this recipe at least once even if you don't like guar. I am sure it will convert you for life. Guar mugphali ki subzi is here to stay in my kitchen for sure.