You see, it's my contribution to Hooked on Heat's From My Rasoi's love-themed cooking extravaganza.
Love? What's a plate of potato and peas and pepper and ridge gourd (and what's a ridge gourd anyway?) got to do with love?
Love. Hmm. Expressed in Indian food.
Sure, I could have Googled, even asked around. I could have pulled out a long-neglected cookbook, Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking by Julie Sahni. But what I really (really really) wanted to make was the ridge gourd curry that showed up on Mahanandi more than a month ago.
You know how some times a dish just grabs your attention? And even when a thousand other recipes try to intercede, your mind is somehow stuck? Thanks to Indira's coaching, I already had the Thai peppers (and have been throwing them into most everything) and the coconut powder. All I needed was the ridge gourd -- and lucky me, they're a dog-walk away.
And the truth is ... I ♥ Indian food blogs.
I love the simple combinations of vegetables and spices. I love the feeling of culture and community. From One Hot Stove to Mahanandi to Food, in the Main to Hooked on Heat to Sailu's Kitchen to Anthony's Kitchen to My Dhaba to The Cook's Cottage ... and on and on ... I feel inspiration.
So that's the story. So now you know. I love Indian food blogs. And that's the reason I cooked a simple and satisfying supper to express 'love'.
KITCHEN NOTES ... This vegetarian/vegan supper was filling and satisfying. I substituted red pepper for carrot (how does one run out of carrot?) and curry powder for currry leaves but otherwise followed Indira's recipe faithfully. And the whole wheat chapatis? Wonderful!
WHAT's A RIDGE GOURD? A ridge gourd may look unusual (to me, to others too?) but isn't the least scary for, let's say, North American palates. It has the texture of spongy summer squash, the wetness midway between a zucchini and a cucumber, and the mild sweetness of a chayote (a Veggie Venture discovery on Day 221, which just this week I learned from Shammi is called chow-chow!).
It's easy to peel with a carrot peeler and is good to eat raw -- perfect for a plate of raw vegetables. And if Wikpedia is right, it's unmature fruit which, if left to mature and then processed becomes luffa, the stuff that softens our skin!
If you can't find ridge gourd, no problem. Substitute zucchini or summer squash or chayote.
FROM THE ARCHIVES ... Curries have become such favorites that they have their own section here in the Recipe Box.
POTATO & RIDGE GOURD CURRY
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See Mahanandi's Authentic Version
Hands-on time: 35 minutes
Time to table: 1 hour, 45 minutes
AN HOUR BEFORE COOKING
1/4 cup dried peas
Soak the peas to soften them for cooking. (The peas aren't essential so could be skipped entirely.)
45 MINUTES BEFORE SERVING
1 teaspoon peanut oil
1 teaspoon garlic (oops, forgot this!)
1 teaspoon brown mustard seed
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon curry powder (Mahanandi uses curry leaves)
1 onion, diced
3/4 pound potato, diced (I leave the skin on)
1/2 pound carrots, peeled and diced (tonight I substituted red pepper)
5 Thai chilis, membrane and seeds removed, minced (Indira was right! 5 is the perfect number)
1 tablespoon coconut powder (substitute unsweetened coconut or because the quantity is small, even sweetened coconut)
Pinch of turmeric
Salt to taste
2 ridge gourds, peeled and diced
1/2 cup frozen green peas
In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil over MEDIUM HIGH until shimmery. Stir in the garlic, mustard seed, cumin and curry and let heat til the seeds begin to pop and the spices become aromatic. Stir in the onion and let cook til just beginning to soften. Add the potato, carrot, the soaked peas and a splash of water. (I found this was needed to keep the potato/vegetables from sticking.) Reduce heat to MEDIUM, cover and let cook until both potatoes and carrots are nearly done, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the potatoes cook, peel and dice the ridge gourds and mash the chilis and coconut powder into a smooth paste (I used a new mortar and pestle, which did the trick). Add the turmeric and salt (so you don't forget!).
Stir the ridge gourd and chili/coconut paste into the potato mixture and let cook for 5 - 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. (During this time, there was five minutes to spare, just enough to pan-heat the chapatis!) Taste and season appropriately. Serve and much enjoy!
Per Serving: 196 Cal (10% from Fat, 15% from Protein, 75% from Carb); 8 g Protein; 2 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 39 g Carb; 9 g Fiber; NetCarb 30; 81 mg Calcium; 3 mg Iron; 62 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 3.5 points
When you see this ◄ in the title and the Recipe Box, you know the recipe's a personal favorite. Tastes vary, of course, but the mark is one indication of another vegetable recipe that's worth paying attention to.