Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Kovakkai Pirattal (Ivy Gourd in Thick Gravy)

This dish features one of my favorite vegetables - kovakkai or ivy gourd. Another one that is based on a segment from Sun TV's Unavum Aarogiyamum series with chef Jacob. I've been meaning to make this for a long time, but somehow hadn't been able to get around to it until recently.

According to the chef, kovakkai pirattal is a Naanjil naadu dish. Naanjil naadu area of Tamilnadu extends from Madurai to Kanyakumari, he said. He also said that the use of deeply roasted coriander powder is characteristic of this cuisine.

This particular dish utilizes the roasted coriander powder, green chillies as the exclusive source of spice, and both coconut and poppy seeds to give a creamy texture. The ivy gourd remains crisp-tender after cooking and the explosion of flavors is amazing!


Kovakkai/Ivy gourd - 2 cups, cut in half lengthwise (if very large gourds, cut in four lengthwise)
Onion - 2 medium, chopped
Tomatoes - 2 medium, chopped
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander seeds - 3 tsp, dry roasted until dark brown and powdered
Fennel powder - 1/2 tsp
Garlic-ginger paste - 2 tsp
Poppy seeds/gasagasa - 1 tbsp, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes
Coconut, grated - 1/4 cup

For seasoning:

Fennel seeds - 1/2 tsp
Green chillies - 10-15, finely chopped
Curry leaves - 1 sprig


1. Grind coconut with poppy seeds and keep aside.

2. Heat oil in pan. When hot, add fennel seeds and fry until they turn brown and splutter a bit. Add the curry leaves and green chillies.

3. Add onions and fry until golden brown. Then add garlic-ginger paste and fry until the raw smell disappears.

4. Then, add tomatoes, turmeric powder, roasted coriander powder, fennel powder and fry until the tomatoes soften a bit.

5. At this point, add the kovakkai/ivy gourd, salt, and enough water to cook the gourds. You can cook them on medium-low heat without closing the pan, but it will take longer than if you close the pan for a bit. So, if you're in a rush, close the pan and cook (on low heat) until mostly cooked, but still a little crunchy.

6. When the gourds are crisp, but tender add the coconut-poppy seed paste. Let it barely simmer (just a bubble or 2 on the surface) and turn off.

This kovakkai dish goes extremely well with rice dishes, pulav rice, white rice, or even chappathis. It was excellent and would be equally delicious without the coconut paste (in my humble opinion!).

One more look:
kovakkai pirattal


Mythreyee said...

coconut idhuvaraikum kovakkai curryla potadhey illa. got to try add this plus the fennel.

easycrafts said...

Never tried such a gravy with kovakkai...thnaks for sharing

Uma said...

The curry looks lovely! Yum!

Lavanya Raj said...

kalai.. i will try this. it looks so good..iam drooling here..konjam anuppungalean:)

Sig said...

I never used to like Kovakka when I was young, but these days I love it... I've only had it as a stir fry though, this sounds good, great flavors in it...

Laavanya said...

This looks great Kalai.. have never made kovakkai like this.

Asha said...

I love Tondekai too, get these only in Indian grocery stores where we go once a month or so! Looks great Kalai, enjoy!:)

Cham said...

I love this recipe with coconut and khuskhus :) Nice pic

Kalai said...

Myth, try pannungal. Ungallukku romba pidikkum! :)

EC, I'd never tried it either until now. I'll definitely be making it more now! :)

Uma, thanks so much! :)

Lavanya, kandippa try pannunga. You can have all of it! :)

Kalai said...

Sig, it's amazing how our palettes change, isn't it? Definitely try this out! It's awesome!! :)

Laavanya, it's unique, but delicious! :)

Ashakka, thanks! :)

Cham, thank you for the kind words! :)

Dhivya said...

My hubby likes kovaikai...but i never tasted in hotel enaku dhan enna dish panaradhunu therila..thanks for sharing the unique recipe...will try them for sure...

Vanamala said...

Kalai first time iam here...nice recipes. Curry looks tasty !!!

Kalai said...

Dhivya, you should definitely try kovakkai!! Even I never tasted it until I went to college. Now, I'm addicted!! :)

Vanamala, welcome to my blog! Thanks for your sweet words. Hope you try the curry sometime! :)

Sagari said...

love the gravy kalai

Pravs said...

I always make thoran with this veggie. Good to see this recipe. Will try when i get some fresh kovakka.

Kalai said...

Thanks, Sagari!

Pravs, I usually make poriyal or fry with kovakkai, too. This seemed different and wound up tasting awesome! Definitely try it when you get kovakka! :)

Seena said...

This looks very very delicious, Kalai! I will try this when I get some. I love your prawn recipe too, congrats on your awards, enjoy them. Sorry for not commenting in all the recipes, I get less time to visit and comment in other blogs..But would check all recipes when I visit.. Keep blogging more and more authentic recipes.. :)

Amrutha said...

Ah! Sooo..yummy!

its me said...

I really did'nt taste kovakkai never before.I don't like kovakkai.So my mom also not interested in preparing this.But my husband likes this very much.Now i got some tips to prepare this veggy by you.Thank u veryyyyyy much.