Summer means gourds and teasel gourd happens to be my favourite. Despite its spiny appearance (which gives it its other name...hedgehog gourd) the taste is mild. I usually buy this vegetable but the other day I was at my sister's in another part of our city and she picked some for me from her garden. I also got some tender leaves and shoots which I intended to use in another dish.
But since the leaves are mild and cook easily I used it like the way spinach is used in palak paneer. So the leaves were incorporated with the vegetable.
The picture below was taken in summer last year in a village market in Upper Assam. When we were growing up, almost every backyard garden had this plant making an appearance during the first rains of the year and them climbing up trellises or branches to bloom and bear. The monsoon season is when the gourds are at their peak. They are usually eaten fried, added to fish curries, cooked with other vegetables, made into chutney or made into fritters.
This recipe is not the usual kind that I make but I liked the creaminess that came from the tender leaves. And home-grown vegetables taste incredibly better!
8 medium-sized tender teasel gourds
Half cup boiled corn (I used fragrant multi-coloured corn)
1 bunch of teasel gourd leaves
1 medium onion, peeled and grated
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and ground
1 small piece of ginger, peeled and ground
5 dried red chillies, ground to a paste
A pinch of turmeric powder (optional...and for me it's out of sheer habit)
A quarter tsp coarsely grated black pepper
1 tsp coriander powder
A quarter tsp cumin powder
(Both the powdered spices were toasted and ground)
Oil as needed
Salt as per taste
Cumin seeds for tempering
|The bloom and the tender gourd|
Remove the ends of the gourd and scrape off the soft spines.
Wash, halve and quarter them.
Wash the leaves and drain in a colander.
Steam the leaves till they wilt completely. Cool and blitz in a blender. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a pan. As soon as it comes to smoking point, add the cumin seeds.
Add the grated onion and fry till it turns translucent. Then add the garlic and ginger.
Add the cut vegetable and stir. The rest of the ingredients, except for the steamed leaves and corn, can go in now.
Cook till the gourds are soft and almost done. If the curry threatens to catch at the bottom, sprinkle some water and stir.
Add the corn and the leaf paste. Add about half a cup of hot water as the gravy needs to be thick. Adjust accordingly.
Cook for a few minutes till the curry comes together.
Remove from the flame and transfer to a serving dish.
This simple dish goes best with rice. We had two more accompaniments..dal and fried fish!
Even if you do not remove the soft 'spines', it is all right. That makes a difference only in appearance but not in taste.