One of our most favourite activities as a family is to travel and see the world. We have just returned from a lovely vacation in Oman over the weekend. Our family friends cum relatives invited us and we gladly accepted the offer. Oman was one of the places I looked forward to seeing as I had browsed through some awesome pictures of that place a few years ago. However, it was a place I had noted in my list and didn't think I would see this soon. Glad that the trip happened although it was pretty short. We got to visit some important landmarks in and around Muscat city and also had a weekend getaway to a beach resort. So yeah, everybody is happy - the kids enjoyed their break and so did we. Most importantly its the food that entices me on any holiday. While there wasn't a lot of seafood on offer at the resort (and plus I was on a diet - more on this later) I enjoyed whatever I got.
However the best part of a holiday is coming back to the comforts of your own house. Isn't it? When we got back yesterday I quickly set about clearing the place and tackling the mountain of holiday laundry and then whizzed through my chores in the kitchen that included making this simple yogurt curry that my family loves. It tastes wonderful with rice or chapathis and is a perfect meal solution on days when you don't have the time to make anything elaborate. What's more, its healthier than most preparations as you are not using any extra oil to fry stuff. If you skip the tempering or reduce the oil it turns into something very suitable to be eaten by dieters.
My friend Savri had told me about this many moons ago and only then I recalled how my mom used to put a similar curry together occasionally. I need to get her recipe too as I believe she used ground coconut in the preparation. My lovely neighbours here who I meet in the mornings also highly recommended adding the ash gourd for its simplicity and how it totally transforms the curry into something so delicious, so that's exactly what I did and the outcome was yum!
- 1-1/2 cups thick curds/yogurt
- approx 2 cups water * see notes
- 1-2 small green chillies minced * see notes
- 1 inch ginger minced * see notes
- 1 tablespoon gram flour / chickpea flour / besan / kadale hittu
- 1-1/2 cups peeled and cubed ash gourd (winter melon) or mangalore cucumber (field marrow)
- salt to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- a generous pinch of asafoetida / hing
- 1 sprig of curry leaves
- 2 dry red chillies broken
- 2 tablespoons chopped coriander
1. In a heavy based pan/kadhai place the cubed vegetable and sprinkle a little water (about 1/2 cup) and salt to taste and cook till tender.
2. Meanwhile whisk the yogurt to a smooth lump free consistency and add the water (*see notes). Add the ginger - green chilli paste (or chopped), gram flour and whisk till everything is mixed and there are no lumps.
3. When the vegetable is cooked and tender, reduce the heat completely and add the yogurt mixture - pay attention at this stage as yogurt can curdle very quickly if the heat is too high. Ensure that the mixture does not come to a boil, lightly stir with a ladle. Let the gravy simmer for about a minute and then remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.
4. Heat a small pan for the tempering and add the oil. Toss in the mustard, when it stops spluttering add the cumin, let it sizzle for a couple of seconds and then add the curry leaves, broken chillies and toss them around in the hot oil for a few seconds. Finally add the asafoetida and remove the pan from the heat - add this tempering to the curry.
5. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot with rice.
1. If you wish you can use ginger & green chilli paste if you are in the habit of preparing it (most Gujarathi households prepare this and use it as required in several dishes) - in which case you can use about 1/2 teaspoon of this paste (or to taste) instead of using minced ginger & green chillies as given above.
2. You can adjust the consistency/thickness of the gravy by adding 1-2 cups water, but do remember that the vegetable also releases some water, so you need to adjust accordingly here.
3. It is ideal to serve this dish a couple of hours after it has been prepared as it helps the vegetable to absorb the yogurt and spices well. You can substitute the ash gourd/field marrow with slices of brinjal (aubergine/egg plant) marinated lightly in red chilli-salt paste, shallow fried and then added to the curry. In this case you need to prepare the curry first and add the fried pieces later and then temper the gravy.