I was inspired this week to try some new Okinawan summer veggies. I saw this huge green vegetable, with a sticker price of around $1.75, and decided that I must learn to like this, based on the price alone. I stood there in the middle of the market, entering kana into my Japanese translation app to discover that yuugao is bottle gourd! Then I Google what the heck a bottle gourd is good for. Apparently, they make delightful liquid vessels once they’re dried. Also, people eat them. I’m off to a good start!
I get this baby home and start looking around the internet for recipes. Many of the recipes were for Indian curries. I saw that it’s used a lot in Kerala, which is where I spent 6 weeks while in India! It’s on now! I know Kerala curries!
1 yuugao (bottle gourd)
1 tbsp ghee
1/3 onion- chopped
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp black mustard seed
5 curry leaves (if you don’t have these, just add cilantro as a garnish instead)
½ tsp coriander
½ tsp fenugreek
1 pinch cayenne pepper or more if you’d like
Salt to taste
½ tsp turmeric powder
¼ tsp hing (fine to omit if you don’t have this)
½ cup coconut
½ cup coconut milk
½ cup water
Peel, deseed and dice whole bottle gourd. Heat ghee in pan, add onions. Cook for 3 minutes then add cumin and black mustard seed. Let this heat until the mustard seeds start popping. Then add flaked coconut and curry leaves. Keep stirring over medium heat until the coconut starts to brown. Be careful not to let the spices burn. Stir, stir, stir! Then add diced bottle gourd, turmeric, coriander, fenugreek, cayenne, and hing. Stir around for a few minutes, letting the spices mingle. Add water and cover pan. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove lid, add coconut milk, bring to a boil then reduce heat and cook for 10 more minutes until the gourd is translucent. Add salt to taste. Serve over rice or barley. Add a side of sautéed greens.
This was really, really good. Surprisingly good. Why haven’t I been eating this all my life, good. The bottle gourd was like a giant cucumber after peeling and deseeding. It’s very watery and fibrous, but soft. The flavor is very mild and pleasing. I enjoyed eating it. Can’t wait to try a new recipe with it! I need to figure out what the Okinawans do with it.
Since the yuugao is watery and mild, it’s perfect for summer. The bottle gourd is actually very good for helping pitta type disorders. Combined with the coconut, it’s a winning combination to beat the heat!
Vatas- add some crushed sesame seeds as a garnish