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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Beerakaya (Ridgegourd) Koora

The word ‘Nostalgia’ comes to my mind, when I spot a ridge gourd here.Whenever I see those wilting, not so tender and even sometimes the fungus/mold laden Chinese okra aka ridgegourd here, my heart yearns for those fresh, green ridgegourds my mom used to buy in India, when we were kids. In our town, farmers from the nearby villages used to sell fresh vegetables grown on their farms. To avoid the exploitation by the local vendors, they preferred selling by going door to door. This direct approach to customers was beneficial to both the seller and the purchaser. The farmer definitely made more money and the housewife got fresh vegetables cheaper compared to the market rates. In India, I guess even today, this continues in small towns and villages.
Ridgegourd is called beerakaya in my native language telugu and is one of my favorite vegetables. My mom prepares a lot of dishes from this vegetable and even it’s peel. So, recipe source for this curry is obviously my mom.
For novices, here is a little tip. Some of the ridgegourds would be bitter. So, while doing the chopping/cutting part, always taste a little bit of the vegetable flesh. If it tastes bitter, throw it away. Otherwise, you would end up throwing away the entire preparation. Also, it does not require much oil, as it gives out water when it is cooking.

You would need
Beerakaya / Ridgegourd (Peeled and cut into cubes) - 4 Cups
(I got 4 cups of ridgegourd cubes from 3 Ridgegourds)
Red chillies (broken into small bits) – 5 or 6
Salt – According to taste
Turmeric powder – less than 1/4 tsp
Chana dal – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Oil - 2 tsp
Curry leaves (If you can find) – A few

Cooking method:
Heat oil in a wok / pan. Add chanadal, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, red chillies, curry leaves, turmeric powder in that order. When the chanadal turns red, the other things start to sizzle and splatter, add the ridgegourd cubes and stir. Cover the wok / pan with a lid and lower the heat. Check in between and cook till it is tender. There is no question of the curry sticking to it’s bottom as it gives out water while cooking. Add salt, stir and cook for couple more minutes and turn off the heat.
Serve with rice.

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