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
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: