This bottle-gourd preparation is mellow, spicy, and nutty, all at the same time.

Lau’er ghonto is a dry, hot-and-spicy curry that is prepared by steaming the bottle gourd in its own juices. This dish benefits from a low-and-slow cooking method, which really helps draw out all the flavours of the lau. The vegetable is to be cut into about 3-mm-wide matchsticks. Larger pieces will not only fail to yield curry of the desired texture, but will also prevent the seasoning and spices from entering the lau. Throughout the cooking process, keep the heat low and the pan covered. Stir occasionally to ensure that the lau doesn’t stick to the pan. In this version of the lau’er ghonto, besides the usual suspects (ginger, cumin powder, garam masala, etc.), we have also added some roasted moong dal and fried dal’er bori. Both of these lend the preparation an amazing nutty undertone, along with a subtle bit of crunch. This dish can be absolutely delightful if prepared right.


COOKING TIME 60 minutes
YIELDS 4 servings


Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
700 g Lau (bottle gourd)
10 g Moong dal
4 pcs Dal’er bori
15 g Mustard oil
1 pc Dried red chilli
1 pc Bay leaf
1 pc Cardamom
1 pc Cinnamon
1 pc Clove
¼ tsp Cumin seeds
10 g Ginger paste
2 g Turmeric powder
2 g Cumin powder
2 pcs Green chillies (slit)
8 g Salt
16 g Sugar
6 g Coriander leaves (finely chopped)
6 g Ghee

Equipment

  • Kadai | frying pan
  • Lid for cooking vessel
  • Khunti | long spatula

Appliances

  • Stove

Method

  1. Divide the bottle gourd into 6–8 cm segments and remove its skin. Now, cut each segment into slices, 3 mm wide. Then bunch up about 3–4 of the slices at a time, and further cut them into matchsticks, 3 mm wide.
  2. In a small bowl, make a paste by mixing the ginger, turmeric, cumin powder, and 25 g water. Set aside.
  3. In a pan set on medium flame, add the moong dal.
  4. Dry-roast the dal, stirring continuously, till it changes colour to a pinkish-brown. This should take about 4 minutes.
  5. Once the dal is roasted, remove it from the pan, and set aside for later.
  6. To the same pan set on medium heat, add 15 g mustard oil.
  7. Once the oil has started to smoke lightly and changed colour to a pale yellow, add in the dal’er bori.
  8. Fry the boris till they turn golden. Drain from the oil and set aside for later.
  9. Temper the same oil with the dried red chilli, bay leaf, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, and cumin seeds.
  10. Once the whole spices have started crackling, add the ginger-turmeric-cumin paste that we prepared earlier.
  11. Fry the spices till they release oil (about 4 minutes). You may add an additional 25 g water to the pan if the spices turn dry and start to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  12. Once the spices have fried, add in the roasted moong dal and cook everything for 2 minutes.
  13. Then add all the shredded lau, along with the salt. Mix till the vegetable is coated with the spices.
  14. Cover the pan and let the lau steam for a good 20 minutes. During this time, the salt will help draw the moisture from the gourd and soften it. Don’t forget to stir occasionally to ensure that the lau doesn’t stick to the pan.
  15. Once the gourd is soft, add the sugar and slit green chillies. Cover and cook for another 8 minutes.
  16. Break the fried bori into shards and add them to the pan, along with freshly chopped coriander leaves. Cook everything for about 4 minutes before garnishing with ghee.

Served with