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.