Friday, October 18, 2013

Ridge Gourd Experiments/Standard Indian Vegetable Recipe

I volunteer at Pinckneyville Middle School's garden. When my husband visited India earlier this year, I asked him to bring home Indian vegetable seeds. I thought the students would enjoy learning about different vegetables.

We planted the vegetables in our home garden at the beginning of the summer. When school started in the fall, there were ridge gourd vines circling the fence around our garden.

I brought the first ripe ridge gourd to a garden club meeting to show the students. The kids and master gardeners, Mim Harris and Kelli Clay, advising the club wondered what the gourd tasted like. We tried it and thought it tasted like a cross between a zucchini and a cucumber with a slightly bitter skin.

At another meeting, we enjoyed peeled, raw slices and ridge gourd chutney. We talked about ideas for preparing the gourd. Anyone who wanted took a gourd home after agreeing to report how they ate it. Some ate it raw, some sauteed it with olive oil and garlic, and some used it in soup.

Cutting the Ridge Gourd

To prepare ridge gourd, I cut off the ridges using a paring knife. I peel young, tender gourds using a swivel vegetable peeler. I use a fixed blade peeler for older gourds with tougher skin.

My Experiments

Since this was a new vegetable for me, the first dish I made was Indian ridge gourd using my standard Indian vegetable recipe that I have included below. I also added chopped up pieces of gourd to my Indian lentils (umptee).

The ridge gourd dish my husband remembered eating while he was growing up in India was chutney made with ridge gourd peel and sesame seeds. From the blog Priya's Versatile Recipes, I made Ridgegourd Peels N Sesame Seeds Chutney. When we visited my son at UGA, I brought him some of this chutney and other homemade goodies. Recently when he was home visiting, he told me he particularly liked this dish. Next time I make this dish, I plan to remove the outer strings of the gourd which resemble celery strings.

Another dish my husband and I enjoyed was Ridge Gourd Chutney from the blog Rak's Kitchen. The middle school students tried this as a dip with pieces of pitas.

My daughter who attends Georgia State University liked the pasta dishes I made with ridge gourd, olive oil, garlic and a combination of the following: tomatoes, peppers, and/or cream. I also tried using the gourd in soups and as an omelet filling. The slightly bitter flavor of the gourd did now work well in the omelet.

I am currently drying some gourds for loofah. I plan to save the seeds, so students can grow them in the school garden next year.

Standard Indian Vegetable Recipe

I learned this recipe from my husband and in-laws. I use it to cook a variety of vegetables: potatoes, cauliflower, spinach, peas. I also use it for mix of vegetables (e.g., spinach and potatoes, potatoes and peas).

3-4 Ridge gourds, peeled and chopped into 1/2-3/4 inch pieces, about 4 cups
1 MediumOnion, chopped, about 1 cup
1-2 Jalapeño pepper, finely minced, to taste
2 TbspVegetable oil
1/4 TspMustard seeds, black preferred
1/8 TspTurmeric
1 CupTomatoes, chopped
1/8 TspCayenne pepper
1/4 TspBlack (Goda) masala
1/2 TspSalt
2 TbspCilantro leaves, chopped
  1. In a large pot, heat oil and mustard seeds on medium high heat. When mustard seeds pop, add onions. Cook until onions are translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Turn heat down if onions start to brown.
  2. Add turmeric and asafoetida and cook for 30 seconds.
  3. Add ridge gourd and jalapeño peppers. Stir to mix. Cover, turn heat to low, and cook 5 minutes.
  4. Add salt, cayenne, and black masala. Stir to mix. Cover and cook 5 more minutes.
  5. Using a fork, check to see if vegetables are ready. Vegetables are ready when they can be easily pricked with a fork but are still firm. If vegetables are not ready or for softer vegetables, cover and continue cooking for 5 more minutes.
  6. Continue checking and cooking until vegetables are done.
  7. Turn off heat, and top with cilantro before serving.
  8. This same recipe can be used for other vegetables including potatoes and cauliflower. Add 2 tablespoons of water for vegetables with low moisture content. If needed, add more water while cooking.