Narkel bori die lau er ghonto
Beginners always find cooking Indian food daunting because most popular Indian dishes require a long list of spices; spices that non-Indian kitchens have no use for. And this explains the “curry-powder” phenomenon. The problem is, what passes or is recognized as Indian food is usually the rich, greasy, spicey, north-western frontier food that has monopolized the Indian food representation outside of India. But Indian food is actually very simple. There’s a clear divide between what we eat at home and what we eat outside. Butter chicken, biryanis, kormas, chicken tandoori, most kebabs are usually things that we order outside. Homecooked food is simple, healthy, and meant to nourish health and soul. And to find these simple dishes we have to look beyond the restaurant food scene–which has been homogenized and hegemonized by western taste preferences–and introduce the vibrant Indian home cooking to the world. And for that, we have to look at how each state in India cooks. I am by no means an expert on all Indian cooking. I am not even an expert on Bengali cooking, but I know and love the simplicity of Bengali food and I can share some recipes and tips with you.
Bengali recipes, unlike most Indian dishes that you may be familiar with, use only a couple of spices at a time. This recipe of narkel die lau bori that I am sharing today uses only one spice–whole mustards, and that too only for tempering. You will see that this is a perfect recipe for those who are only starting to familiarize themselves with Indian cooking. Plus, it’s vegan, super healthy, and reducetarian. When you try this recipe you will see that it challenges every sensation, taste, feeling that you have come to associate with Indian food and expands your knowledge of what constitutes Indian cuisine.
I have made boris, which are lentil dumplings, to add some crunch to this dish, but you can use roasted or deep-fried chickpeas or peanuts too.
Narkel die lau bori ghonto
- 1 bottle gourd
- 1 tbsp mustard oil or canola/vegetable oil
- 8-10 boris lentil dumplings (optional)
- 2 green chilies
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
- salt to taste
- sugar to taste
- 1/4 cup grated coconut
- 1 tsp ghee optional
- Wash, peel, and grate the bottle gourd. You can also chop it very finely. If you cannot manage very thin chopping then you will have to steam the gourd before adding it to the oil. (Reserve the peels to make lau er khosha bhaja)
- Heat oil in a pan. Fry boris until golden brown. Remove onto a kitchen towel and set aside.
- To the same oil, add green chilies and mustard. As they start to splutter, add the grated bottle gourd. Add salt, sugar and give everything a good stir. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until the bottle gourd has softened.
- Adjust salt and sugar, add grated coconut, ghee and fried boris. Stir and remove from heat.
- Seve with steamed white rice.