I wanted to post this earlier but got a bit sidetracked. There was the disturbing news of the bomb blasts in the city which was quite depressing besides I occasionally contribute to my brother’s blog Advertising Opinions; recently I did a post on Barbie doll’s journey in India. As soon as I completed the post I sat down to put together this post. Mum had recently prepared this dish but as I sat in front of my computer I was stumped -- well the problem was what do I call the dish in English? I did what I always do whenever I have a problem translating the name of a Bengali dish; I just add the word ‘Delight’ to the main ingredient.
So today’s recipe is Bottle Gourd Peel Delight. Lau kholar chenchki that is what the dish is called in Bengali. Lau is what bottle gourd or lauki is called in Bengali. Khola is peel and lau khollar is bottle gourd’s peel, the ar is the apostrophe s ('s) we add in English so khollar is peel’s. I do not know how to translate chenchki (by the way you do not pronounce the n but just add a nasal touch to the chech). Why am I giving all of you a lesson in the Bengali language?
Be that as it may, in undivided India, Bengal was divided into East and West Bengal; East Bengal went on to become East Pakistan and then Bangladesh. The division was not just geographical but there is a difference in the food habits of the two Bengals. The following recipe is a West Bengal recipe. My mum cooks this one whenever she lays her hands on some clean tender bottle gourd or lauki.
The main ingredient is not bottle gourd but the peel. We Bengalis eat a lot of vegetable peels and this is one of them. I think this is a very good habit for according to nutritionists most of the nutrition lies in the skin of the vegetable. You will notice the way this dish is prepared, it retains all the food value, and it is not rich or heavy.
When mum made this dish recently I knew I had to share it. While preparing the dish, select a bottle gourd which is free of blemishes, smooth and fairly tender and select the long gourds. The gourd my mum cooked was about 750 grams, so I guess the peel was about 100 grams. Here is the recipe:
- 100 grams bottle gourd
- ¼ teaspoon mustard seed
- One small dry chilli preferably Kashmiri red chilli
- A little turmeric powder
- One table spoon oil
- Salt and sugar to taste
- Peel the gourd, take care to see that the peels are thick, do not slice off thin peels, the dish will not taste nice.
- Wash and chop the peels as shown in the picture.
- Boil the peel with little water.
- Once done mash the peels not too much just lightly or just press them with the back of a spoon.
- Heat a tablespoon of oil, we use mustard oil, you may use any oil of your choice.
- Add mustard seeds and the whole dry red chilli.
- Once they crackle add the boiled peel.
- Stir well.
- Add turmeric powder, a little sugar and salt to taste. Stir well.
- Add a little water and stir. Cook till done.
- Just before removing from flame add green chillies (to taste).
- Remove from heat and serve.