Here are a few pointers...
- Look for fresh green stalks like the picture above. The stalks are generally long when the fresh produce arrives in the stock, the sellers keep nipping the dry ends as it goes on drying. So a stale stock would generally have shorter stalk, browned or bruised, indicating the gourd has been plucked long time back.
- The skin of the guards should be shiny green.Not pale green or whitish. It is tender to touch and not very smooth. Note those light ridges on the surface in the picture. These light ridges disappear when the gourd matures and the skin becomes smoother but harder. No wonder it was used for making vessels by the wanderers of older times.. This shape of metal Kamadal is evolved from a round bottle gourd kamandal of older times.
- If you push the skin using your nail, the nail should pierce the skin easily and there should be a pale watery exude ooze out slowly.
- When you peel the gourd with a potato peeler, it slides smoothly over the skin, peeling a thin uniform skin. The mature guard would be harder and the peeler wouldn't slide on it smoothly, resulting in broken peels.
- Last but not the least, freshly plucked and tender Bottle gourds have a fine hairy cover at the base of the stalk. See the picture.
This curry uses the not so tender gourds. See the pan cooked version of a simple Lauki ki subzi here.
Bottle gourd about 700 gm ( few potato cubes can be added along with it too)
2 large tomatoes about 200 gm
ginger grated 2 tbsp
everyday curry powder 1 tbsp
turmeric powder 1 tsp
red chilly powder 1 tsp or to taste
salt to taste
mustard oil 1 tbsp
Make a smooth paste of all the ingredients together except the bottle gourd. Chopping the tomatoes before blending everything together in a blender would be convenient.
Peel and cube the bottle gourd in large chunks.
Heat the oil in the pressure cooker pan and tip in the tomato and spice paste into it. Add salt and let the paste cook for 2-3 minutes with the lid placed over the pan. Do not lock the lid for this step. Later , open the lid and cook the paste till it gets reduced a bit. Takes about 3-4 minutes more.
Add the Bottle gourd chunks , toss and mix well. Add about 2 cups of water , close the lid and cook till the whistle blows.
If the BG was hard and tough, you would like to cook it on low flame for about 5 minutes after the whistle blows.
Let the pressure release on it's own, open the lid and serve the curry hot. A garnish of fresh green coriander suits this curry very well. I didn't have the greens when I cooked this curry. Don't miss it if you have.
This curry goes well with chapatis and parathas . I like as a dinner soup as well.