Do you remember a folk song by Runa Laila – “Sadhe’r lao banailo morey bairagi “….well “bairagi” or “ragi” say what ever or even you wish to assign , lao was not a popular choice when it came to having a stir/fry recipe in our home. But as with each passing years, I have started to realize that I am trying to ape my Ma and Ma-in-law, well at least in terms of cooking per se. That said, I think as our kids grow older, you tend to change your menu plans or preferences for particular food items and recipes, introducing more vegetables and other specialty now becomes compulsory. As you feel, like the baton for the relay race has been passed on to you, responsibility tends to overtake carelessness and idleness.
As I now try to incorporate some of the age-old recipes, in our day-today meal plans. And anything cooked with Lao or bottle gourd as in English is one of those things. This vegetable has become a regular part of our weekly menu plans, be it a simple stir/fry , Lao ghonto with fish head,, lauki kofta curry, lao-chingri jhaal, lao doi etc.This lentil preparation is one easy way of incorporating vegetables in lentil curry, although I wouldn’t like to assign curry tag to this preparation, as it has gravy but is more towards like a soup, but yet still it’s not a proper soup, I guess without being confused and making you further amused, I would stick to basic, so the long name for this recipe – first in Bengali , our mother tongue- “Lao diye Mong dal” and then in English- “ Bottle gourd cooked with yellow lentils”.
Lao Diye Mong dal
Recipe requirements( serves 3-4)
1 and 1 ½ cups of yellow lentils/mung dal
About 3 cups of chopped bottle gourd in to cubes
½ tsp of turmeric powder
For tempering the dals
½ tsp of kalo jeerey/nigella seeds/kalaunji
2-3 dry red pepper
1 cup of chopped coriander (optional)
Salt as per taste
two pinches of sugar
3-4 tbs of mustard oil or any other cooking oil
In a fry pan/saucepan, dry roast mung dal for about 6-7 mints at medium flame, stirring in between, just as to have a lovely even ,pale brown colour. When a nice aroma of mung dals/lentils, starts coming, stop the roasting part.
Now put it to cook with enough water, at least fill the saucepan up to half. When a white froth starts coming, scoop it out and discard.
Now add in salt, turmeric powder. Let it come to another boil.
Add in chopped bottle gourd and put the flame at med-low, allow to slowly simmer. I have used half the long bottle gourd for this much of dal, which serves 3-4 people.
Let it cook further 15-20 mints. When the bottle gourd has turned soft, do the tempering part.
For tempering we will need nigella seeds, and dry red pepper. Heat up a separate pan, add in mustard oil, let it come to a good smoking point; add in nigella seeds, dry red pepper. Now transfer this to the simmering pot of lentils.Add in sugar. Cover it and cook for 4-5 mints.
Now stop cooking and sprinkle coriander leaves, although that’s just my personal preference, however you can skip that part. Enjoy with warm cooked rice.
Tomorrow is Basant panchmi; or Saraswati puja.May this day leads us all to a world of knowledge and compassion. And also like every year, khichdi, chatni -payesh is on our menu tomorrow and not to forget gota-sheddo, although we will have it on Sunday, a day after panchami.Shitol sashti as it is commonly known in Bengal, has been part of traditions in many families.
So enjoy the day with kite-flying, relishing khichdi, although some of them will be having Hilsa fish, and some will be waiting for gota sheddo next day...What ever way you do prefer the festivals, some of the thing, which remains common - celebrations and happiness…enjoy and have a lovely weekend.
Happy Basant Panchmi...Saraswati Pujar onek sbubecha…..