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From bejjala pulusu to pachadi: Cooking with gourds, peel and all

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‘In my Andhra household, we routinely ate plenty of gourd, as pappucharu, pachadi, pulusu or paala koora’

If I needed to dredge up a reminiscence about sorakai (bottle gourd), it must be the one about how I ate koottu made with it day in and time out for 3 years in my hostel mess — solely to search out out later that it wasn’t. The vegetable in query alternated between ash gourd and chow chow. I had by no means heard of chow chow in my rising up years in Andhra Pradesh, however sorakai made an everyday look on the eating desk at dwelling.

How does one recreate a dish from reminiscence after they weren’t interested in it as a toddler? I not too long ago obtained the reward of a young, spherical bottle gourd that jogged my memory of my grandmother, of kitchen gardens, and the door opening to the sight of an avuncular relative, motorbike key dangling from his fingers, outstretched arms holding the somewhat sizeable, pot-like vegetable.

Grandmother would grin, saying, “If it’s you, I do know it will likely be one other sorakai. Give my regards to your mom.” And with this flashback, one is consuming, together with the sorakai, the previous yet again. Ammamma and her gap-toothed smile, the mushy fuzz on the gourd, the ’80s, once we ate solely at dwelling, and the numerous meals that went out with the individuals who cooked them.

In a sudden burst of nostalgia, I considered bejjala pulusu, an uncommon dish then when a lot of the gourd greens we ate had been routinely peeled — sorakai, beerakai (ridge gourd), gummadikai (pumpkin), dosakai (melon cucumber), potlakai (snake gourd). I say ‘uncommon then’ as a result of today there’s a lot being written on cooking completely with vegetable and fruit peel.

Sticky, golden affair

For only a few dishes, the gourds would stay unpeeled. There was the sorakaya bejjala pulusu, the place the gourd can be pricked with a fork throughout and stewed in tamarind juice with onion and inexperienced chillies. There was a curry made with cubed inexperienced pumpkin and jaggery the place the peel was left on, a sticky, golden affair that was sizzling and candy; a dosakai chutney that was simply uncooked melon cucumber pounded with salt, tempering and tamarind. The sorakaya pulusu was a barely extra concerned course of — massive vegetable, stabbing, slicing, stewing — it was extra enjoyable.

However how was I to search out the recipe now? Would an Web search assist? It did, however three movies in, I wasn’t positive any of them had been what I wished. One unnoticed the tamarind altogether, advocating using coriander and cumin powder, one other deep-fried the vegetable, and the ultimate look of the third put me off.

In my Andhra household, we routinely ate plenty of gourds. A piece of the sorakai would go into pappucharu, a cousin of sambar however not as thick or spicy. A lot of the gourds can be was a lightweight, pale-green stir-fry or a chutney. The dosakai went into the favored Andhra dal, dosakaya pappu. Most of the gourds can be cooked into a skinny gravy with tamarind, or a paala koora, a gentle curry completed off with an enormous splash of milk.

From being rotund or lengthy and ending in a languid curve, bottle gourds in my Chennai neighbourhood have of late diminished to the dimensions of my forearm. The dismay I really feel at their quick and stumpy avatar is momentary; I can now use them in a single go, somewhat than save them for one more meal.

Because it turned out, I didn’t need to look very laborious for the recipe. Whereas writing this text I discovered my great-aunt Suseela’s cookbook Doctoramma Vantalu (Telugu). A gynaecologist and a positive prepare dinner, she spent many weekends feeding me scrumptious meals over some 18 years, until she handed away. That is tailored from her recipe. I’m unsure how its identify will translate into English — hole-y stew, pierced vegetable curry, pitted bottle gourd curry — nevertheless it’s as a lot enjoyable to translate it as it’s to organize it.


Sorakaya bejjala pulusu

From bejjala pulusu to pachadi: Cooking with gourds, peel and all


1 tender bottle gourd (about 500 gm)

2 onions chopped

2-4 thinly sliced inexperienced chillies

A free fistful tamarind, soaked in a cup of water for an hour

2-3 garlic cloves

1-1.5 tsp pink chilli powder/ sambar powder

1/4 tsp turmeric

Salt to style

1-2 tbsp jaggery

2 tbsp oil

For tempering

½ tsp mustard seeds

½ tsp cumin seeds

2 dried pink chilli

¼ tsp fenugreek seeds

A handful curry leaves


1. Wash the bottle gourd and prick throughout with a fork. Don’t peel. Lower into medium-sized items.

2. Warmth the oil. Add the tempering substances, guaranteeing they don’t burn.

3. Then, fry the onion, garlic and inexperienced chilli properly.

4. Add the bottle gourd and saute for 3-4 minutes on medium flame.

5. Add salt and turmeric, combine properly, and saute some extra.

6. Extract the tamarind juice and add it to the pan. Add the chilli powder or sambar powder. Combine properly, cowl and let it prepare dinner in its personal juices until completed. Hold checking and add water if crucial in order that the vegetable doesn’t persist with the pan. The peel will supply a wee little bit of resistance even when the items boil all the way down to a velvety consistency.

7. Add the jaggery, simmer and swap off the flame. Serve sizzling.

The unbiased author and editor is predicated in Chennai.

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