Lauki Koftas is an indian dish; a bottle gourd dumpling into a hot curry sauce. This vegetable goes by many names; Calabash, opo, Lauki, bottle gourd…It’s origin is from Africa although the bright green skin kind is the most popular in Asia. The gourd contains over 90% of water so you’ll have to drain and keep the juice in the first step of the recipe. Also a popular choice of veggie for losing weight diets, and as cranberry juice it support the urinary system, lower blood pressure and much more. A healthy choice of vegetable.
I’m lucky to be living next to a Bangalis vegetable store, where they always get those strange kind of vegetables I’ve never seen before. Two days ago, while shopping for my veggies of the day, as usual, I saw, this big bright green pear, in the first basket in the entrance. As a curious food explorer, I had to try it. I’ve ask for it’s name, Lauki, and then started my researching on this new protagonist of the day.
In our days, with Youtube and Co. one can travel into real Indian kitchens to learn how to make their specialities. Although they use terms and ingredients, which I’ve never heard of before, one can always find a equivalent or slightly modify the recipe. I haven’t used as much green chili peppers… for example, for the dish, simply one thai pepper on top of the chili powder is plenty to my taste. This is all to your preference, I like medium heat indian food.
So let’s get back to this strange vegetable… On the internet, I saw many time that the Lauki, bottle gourd, was a tasteless vegetable by itself, sad… but it’s the curry sauce and it’s seasoning that bring the veggy to live. After watching and reading a few different recipes, I opt for the kofta, which is a fried ball of Lauki with chickpea flour. I’ve used simply a wok to fry the kofta, no need to submerge completely the dumplings, but half way and on medium high heat, this way the ball gets cooked though. I aromatized the oil with some cinnamon and cardamom and let the ball cook until light brown on each side. As for the masala paste, I’ve blended the sauce quickly, with an immersion blender, after adding the water in step 11, but this step is optional.
So let’s make this Lauki Kofta going!
Lauki Kofta (bottle gourd dumplings)
Makes 2 portions (6 dumplings)
- 500g (2 cups) of grated Lauki (bottle gourd)
- 5 tbsp of chickpea flour
- 1/4 tsp garam masala powder
- 1/4 tsp chilli powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- cinnamon (half a stick)
- 4 green cardamom
- oil for frying (I’ve used olive oil)
The Masala Paste
- 150g concentrated tomato paste (or 5 tomatoes, skinless)
- 1 onion finely cut
- 3 garlic minced
- 1 tbsp of minced ginger
- 1 hot green chili pepper or thai pepper finely chopped (if you want more spicy, add more)
The final seasoning
- 1/2 tsp of turmeric
- 1/2 tsp of coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
- 1/4 chili powder
- 1/4 tsp of cumin
- 1 tbsp of tamarind paste *optional
- 200ml of water
- 1 tbsp of sugar
- 2 tbsp of natural yogurt
- coriander leaves
In a wok or fryer, bring the oil to medium high heat, with the cinnamon and cardamom, no need to submerge completely the balls, half the height of them is fine.
- Grate the Lauki, gourd, and add a pinch of salt to help it release its water, leave for 30 minutes to drain, keep the Lauki water
- Squeeze the last drops of water from the Lauki with the hands
- Add the flour and spice mix to the Lauki and mix
- Make little balls of 4 cm of diameter
- Fry the balls, medium high heat, until light brown on each side (about 6-7 minutes)
- Reserve the balls on a paper towel
- Let the oil cool
- Add the onions to a pan with some salt and cook slowly until soft (in a few tbsp of the oil used for frying)
- Add the garlic, hot peppers and ginger, let cook 2 more minutes
- Add the tomato paste or tomatoes and let it become a paste
- When paste is done, add the lauki juice leftover, the powdered spices mix and the water and let cook a few more minutes
- Add the tamarind paste and sugar 2 minutes before the end of coccion
- Check the seasoning, add sugar or salt to taste
- Turn off the heat and add the yogurt, mix and voilà!
Serve the balls in the warm sauce with a few coriander leaves on top. Enjoy!