I moved to USA almost 9 years ago. After the initial excitement of trying out new type of food, my Bengali food loving mind started to long for very Bengali recipes that I called mundane when maa used to cook. Getting hold of Malabar spinach to cook chanchhara , or just a nice block of frozen koi (still looking for fresh ones) to make tel koi made my day.
We moved to this house a few years back and I have made good use of the backyard, growing whatever vegetables we long for. A varied array of typical Bengali vegetables grow in our backyard garden, and of course bottle gourd is one of them. we do find bottle gourd in the Indian stores here, but the vines are never to be seen.
Lau saag is one of my favorites, the simple taste of the leaves along with the vegetables make this recipe a perfect side for lunch. And, to top it all it takes very little time to cook and no water needed. The water that drains out of the leaves is enough to cook the vegetables.
2 cups pumpkin, cut into 2″ sie
2 medium potatoes, cut into 1″ size
1 small eggplant, cut into big square
Big bunch of bottle gourd branches
1 teaspoon nigella seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon mustard oil
3 – 4 dry red chilies
3 tablespoon poppy seed, grind to paste
Salt to taste
Thoroughly wash the bottle gourd branches, pick the leaves and cut the stems into 3-4″ long pieces, chop the leaves in two or more pieces.
In a wok heat the oil, add in the dry red chilies and nigella seeds. As the seeds start to splutter add the potatoes, pumpkin and eggplant. Add turmeric and chili powder and season with salt.
Toss the vegetables to coat the spices. Fry for 3 -4 minutes, stirring often so that the vegetables don’t stick.
Add in the leaves and stems of the bottle gourd and cover. Cook for 7 – 10 minutes or till the vegetables are almost cooked and the leaves have wilted.
Add in the poppy paste and stir to coat. Cook covered for 2 more minutes.
Serve hot with warm white rice.