Sponge guard is called nenua in eastern UP and turai in the western parts of UP. Tori is the punjabi name and there must be at least 20 names in other Indian languages for sponge gourd.
I named this post nenua ki subzi because it is made in a traditional eastern UP way. A simple stewed curry bursting with all the flavors of this humble vegetable taking center stage, so if you don't like the taste of this veggie this is not the curry for you. And if you like the taste of sponge gourd this is the curry you'd love the most.
There is nothing fancy in the ingredient list and it takes about 10 minutes to cook if it is for 2-3 people. It can be a side dish but you will be surprised that it's always a main (only) subzi with our roti subzi dinner which always ends with a .... Waah...mazaa aa gaya ! (enjoyed-the-meal-thoroughly-statement).
And I love to hear those words trust me.
I have done nothing to make this humble vegetable tasty this way. It is a traditional dish and is made the same way all around Eastern UP and many of my friends from other places have loved it. Many people like this curry with rice too. Nenua pyaz ki subzi and plain boiled rice is a favorite combo meal for many people of my mom's age (including her) who prefer light meals. Other variants of this curry are loved more with rice and those recipes will be coming on this space soon.
( serves two )
sponge guard 300 gm
onions medium sized 2 nos. or 200 gm
green chilies 2-3 nos. ( or more if you like it hot , it's a mild hot curry otherwise )
cumin seeds 1 tsp
turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
mustard oil 2 tsp
salt to taste
Slit the green chilies lengthwise , cut the onion in half vertically and then make slices , peel the sponge guard and slice them in coin shaped slices.
Heat oil in a kadhai and throw in the cumin seeds and wait till they crackle. Throw in the slit chilies taking care to protect your face if it splutters hard.
Add the sliced onions and stir fry till they become translucent and a few of them start turning pink.
Throw in the turmeric powde , stir a bit and throw in all the sliced nenua slices ... mix well, add salt and cover and cook at low heat. The sponge guard releases it's own sap and gets cooked into its own juices.
If you are using larger sponge gourds it releases so much water (especially if the guards are a bit large) that it become soupy. You may want to reduce the watery curry to make it almost dry or a little watery, I like mine a bit watery sometimes.
Serve this curry hot with rotis or with anything you fancy. I know this curry is a major craving for many Eastern UP people who do not get this sponge guard in other places. Try making this curry with zucchini instead and the flavors will be a bit similar if not absolutely the same. Do not replace green chilies with red chilies though, it makes a difference in such a simple flavored curry. Sweetish with the flavors of nenua and pyaaz and a hint of sharp heat of green chilies, this is the way I sum up the flavours of this curry.
Call it nenua ki subzi, tori ki subzi, turai ki tari wali subzi or sponge guard soup,this is the most traditional way of healthy eating. Home cooked Indian food is the most healthy food.