Saturday, June 9, 2012

Lauki ki tamatar waali subzi...and how to choose the right bottle gourd..

Someone asked me how to choose a tender Bottle gourd as all of them look the same on the shelf.

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.
  • 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.

Now when the selection of a fresh tender Bottle gourd has been sorted, let's see a recipe that uses a slightly mature one. With tender edible seeds. Even if you have got a gourd with mature hard seeds, just discard the seeds and peel off a thick layer of skin and cube the flesh to make this curry. Pressure cooking ensures the guard is cooked to become tender. Although the peculiar taste of bottle gourd is lost when it is too mature.

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.


  1. Didn't know any of those pointers about choosing lauki. I always bought a plump, spotless lauki without considering anything else! :-/

    Was surprised with the fact about skin being used to make that vessel!

  2. Thanks for the tips for buying bottle gourd. I have stood so many times at the supermarket wondering if it is good and walking off without one. Off in the evening, and will look for all the signs!

  3. i read that old bottle gourd is not safe to eat.
    do you know why it is not safe?

    please teach us how to tell what is a fresh ingredient and what is an old or adultrated ingredient so we can cook safely. for example what is real true saffron? i read it is often adultrated, mixed with things that are not saffron but look like it. another commonly adultrated food is ghee. how to tell what is true ghee?

    1. It's not old bottle gourd but the bitter ones. But you wouldn't be able to eat the bitter ones owing to the awful taste.

      Ghee and saffron are adulterated often and I would prefer to rely on good brands. We get duped when we buy them from spurious dealers.

  4. Hi Sangeeta I am your new follower. Thanks for the tips of choosing the lauki it becomes difficult to recognize the good ones.Do visit my space in your free time.

  5. Thanks for the recipe as well as the tips. Tried the recipe and it turned out well.. thanks again!

  6. One fine afternoon., we thought of dining out and ended up at a small house of a marwadi family.,(a single old lady, who runs this ., called apnoa ghar) . A meal costed Rs50 which included a laukisubzi, dall, rotis, rice pickle and curd. The lauki subzi was similar to what u have made but in the final step., little besan mixed with water was added to thicken and give a nice flavour., When ever i end up at such points.,nowadays, my mind immediately thinks, " how sangeeta would feel being here"" ha ha this is not exaggerations., ur write ups have got infused into my thoughts., that anything i put into my mouth makes me think of u.

    1. I am smiling wide Nirupama, it's an ultimate complement on my writing and the kind of food I write about. Thank you so much. And yes, I would love to go to this lady some day to have a meal.