Monday, January 28, 2008

Doodhi/Lauki Kofta Curry (BottleGourd Dumplings) in Almond and Cream Gravy

Kofta Curry is a very famous Indian curry, and goes through endless variations. Though paneer, cheese and vegetables seem to be the favorites, I also like the simple koftas made from lauki, called bottle-gourd in English. This elongated gourd vegetable is quite nutritious too, especially good for your eyes and skin, and due to the rich water content, it can add to the softness in the koftas. This one is a very low-fuss recipe that comes from my mom's kitchen, and unlike the restaurant-style Malai Koftas, these dudhi koftas require minimal preparation and cooking time, and yet can make any meal special. I modified my mom's recipe to pair almonds with bottle-gourd, and also make the curry more richer by using almond and cream in the gravy. The result was delicious, and I urge you to try this bottlegourd kofta curry to serve with your parthas or simple jeera rice!

1/2 mid-sized bottlegourd
1/2 to 3/4 cup besan (chickpea flour)
1/2 cup blanched almonds
slivered almonds - for garnish
1 medium onion
2 medium tomatoes
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup whipping cream
1-2 cups water
3-4 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp garam masala powder
3-4 tsp red chilli powder
salt - to taste
2-3 tbsp lemon juice
chopped fresh coriander - for garnish

Take the onions and garlic and blend them to form a smooth paste. Take the blanched almonds, peel off the skin, then blend them with 2 tsp water or milk to form a thick paste. Blend the tomatoes separately and keep aside.

Now take a pan, put 2 tbsp oil and add the cumin seeds. When they start spluttering, add the onion-garlic paste and sate till it turns light pinkish with a glaze. Now add the garam masala, tomato paste, salt, the remaining spices and slowly add the milk, stirring it. Now add the almond paste, a little water to make a rich gravy, then cover with a lid and allow to simmer on medium flame.

Take the bottle-gourd and grate it in a bowl. Then press it through a strain or your fingers to remove all water from the bottle-gourd. It's important to do this else the koftas will break in the gravy. Now add the turmeric powder, salt, red chilli powder, half of the slivered almonds and the besan. You can also add some lemon juice to your taste. Mix well and form small round or oval dumplings from the mixture. Add more besan flour if required to give proper texture and shape to the koftas.

Now increase the flame for the gravy so it starts boiling, then gently add the koftas (dumlpings)into the gravy. Cover with the lid and reduce flame. Let them cook for 3-5 mins, then gently flip the koftas over, taking care not to break them. Add more water to the ravy if required, then add the whpping cream. Stir gently and let it cook so the spices and flavors get soaked in together.

Once its done, gently remove the koftas first and transfer them into a serving bowl, then top it with the remaining gravy. Garnish with chopped coriander and slivered almonds, and serve hot your delicious Doodhi/Lauki Koftas with Parathas or Rice!

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