Fork Spoon Knife is the personal blog of Asha where she chronicles her journeys in food through stories, recipes and photographs. She can also be found doodling and sharing her experiences as below.



Simple South Indian Comfort - Bottle Gourd Kootu (Stew)

Bottle Gourd Kootu1

I am a South Indian but, oddly enough, I did not grow up with a particularly South Indian table. My mom always did like trying out new dishes and since she started her serious cooking while in the mid-West of India, North Indian cuisine was as much a staple as traditional Tamilian dishes.

As I grew up, I became more partial to rotis and less so to rice. I would be very happy to eat rotis for every meal and avoid the other carb entirely. Obviously, this meant more work for my mom, because, of course, I would expect fresh, hot-off-the-tava rotis for every meal.

Bottle Gourd Kootu

Finally, and I am sure, without any correlation to the convenience of it, mom insisted that I have to eat atleast one cup of rice a week. And, this was excluding those special treats of Biriyani that I had absolutely no qualms in overindulging in.

I would grumble but, in hindsight, rather enjoyed my Saturday lunches, which, were usually rice with a South Indian vegetable stew and a side of more veggies and paapad. All with generous teaspoons of homemade ghee! :-).

To be a vegetarian in India is very easy, not the least because of the variety of vegetables and greens you find there. Besides, South Indian cooking is quite partial to the use of fruits of the Earth, having endured centuries of the caste system, where, vegetarian Brahmins, occupied the pride of place atop.

Comfort Lunch - Bottle Gourd Koottu

So, recently, when nostalgia hit me and I wanted to go back to the comfort of my mom's cooking, I turned to this simple but deeply satisfying stew made with Bottle Gourd. It's a mild stew, that is tamely spiced with turmeric, green chillies and cumin powder, allowing the flavor of the vegetable to come through.

We ate it with dill rice and homemade ghee (made by MIL! :-) ) and a side of grated fresh turmeric salad. Ah! Bliss!!!

Brunch Bruschetta DMBLGIT Win

And, before I go, I want to share a bit of happiness that just made my Friday. A mail from Xiaolu in the morning put a smile on my face and kept it there. Yes, the DMBLGIT awards and I am honored to be listed amongst the winners for my photo of the Brunch Bruschetta. Thanks very much to all the judges for your appreciation! :))

Bottle Gourd Kootu

1 medium bottle gourd, peeled and diced
1/2 medium onion, diced fine
3-4 green chillies
2 cloves of garlic
1 inch ginger, minced
1 tomato, diced fine
1/4 cup fresh grated coconut
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp urad dal (ivory lentil)
3/4 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
3 -4 curry leaves
2 T chopped fresh dill
2 cups water + more if needed
salt, oil as needed

In a deep pan, fry the mustard and cumin seeds and ivory lentil until the lentils lightly brown. Add the curry leaves and wait for the mustard to start popping. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and saute until soft. Stir in the chillies, salt and ground spices and saute for a couple of minutes.

Add the bottle gourd and coconut and saute for a few minutes. Now add the tomato and water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer on medium for about 15 minutes or until the vegetable is fully cooked. Add more water if needed. Stir in the dill leaves and adjust seasoning if needed. Serve with rice and some melted ghee.


  1. Congrats on the award! You deserve it.

    That stew must taste wonderful! It looks so appetizing.



  2. Love the comfort that your Mom's stew brings. I truly enjoy Indian cuisine, but I should learn more about North vs South dishes.

  3. Your curry looks the presentation. How do you make turmeric salad??? It looks really interesting!

  4. I am a fan of South Indian food! Growing up eating South Indian curry, which is more common in Malaysia than any other Northern Indian food.

  5. Asha, I didn't know you were in Honest Cooking too! Haven't seen any post of yours, but I won't miss the next. I will add your name to my post immediately ;)
    And congrats for your DMBLGIT award, we all know you deserve it!

  6. Bottlegourd stew is always comforting :) Congrats on the award!

  7. curry looks so good, for me,.

  8. Hi, Asha. I enjoy your blog, which I've been following for a few months. This recipe looks great but I'm not familiar with bottle gourds. Are they the longneck squashes one sees in the grocery?

  9. GB: You peel the turmeric, dice it really fine and then soak in lemon juice and water. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes and serve. :)

    Mike: They kind of look just like a long bottle :). Green squashes yes. I have not seen them much in US stores but you should find them in Asian stores. Here is a picture -

  10. you make something so simple look exotic. love it!

  11. Congrats! Anyway, looking forward more and more South Indian recipes from you too.

  12. So true Asha..being a south indian even i am partial to hot-off-the tava rotis and till date avoid rice...but my hubs is a pakka south-indian & its a feast if I make sambhar,avial,rasam,mor kuzhambu or kootu..I also love kootu with rotis ;-)

  13. Wat a wonderful looking comforting kootu..

  14. This is a gorgeous dish. I love the colors and flavors- sensational. Congratulations on your winning photo too! I'm not surprised. It's beautiful.

  15. That stew looks wonderful! And I love the little chilis on top!

  16. I'm on an Indian food kick lately and decided to restock my pantry with fresh spices. If I were to ever consider becoming a vegetarian, Indian cuisine would surely make more of an appearance in my home. I love flavorful stews. One of my favorite ways to enjoy veggies is the way you prepared the gourd here.

    Congrats on the well-deserved award, Asha!

  17. congrats on the award
    yummy looking curry

  18. That's a gorgeous stew. I wish we had the same choice of vegetables in the UK as in India

  19. Lovely blog and interesting recipes.

  20. Ashaaaaaa. Been a mute reader of your blog for a while.
    Your food reminds me of masterchef australia for obvious reasons :)
    I am absolutely greenly jealous of how you get to pursue your love for cooking. Im an idiot cook, just learning to bake pound cakes , because i have been acquiring an education that doesnt permit passion-following, for as long as i can remember.
    sigh. So till i turn forty and retire to my cottage in the hills with my own veggie garden, ill resort to voyeurism :) thank you
    Btw, are u a chennai ponnu :) ?


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