Dudhi for Din Din

Hot off the fry pan, the bottle gourd beats same old zucchini any day
Hot off the fry pan, the bottle gourd beats same old zucchini any day
Jackie Sayet
Eggplant: Zucchini, I am green with envy over your pleasing crunch.

Zucchini: Oh eggplant, how your porous, ivory flesh melts on the tongue when grilled. 

 
Who needs these two and their little spat?  Dudhi, a.k.a. bottle gourd or calabash, combines the best qualities of both and has been a favorite of cooks in the Far East and Africa for ages.  And, inspired by a recent trip to India, I chopped, dolloped and sauteed my way to a tasty curry with this tea green member of the squash family


To think that this simple vegetable to prepare rarely makes an appearance in American kitchens!  I can guarantee you've bumped into it before, in fact maybe even been acquainted with its dried and marinated strip form known as kanpyō, what makes vegetable sushi rolls delightfully sweet. 

Taking the lead from the New York Times, which chose to spotlight an Indian dish as the focus of its inaugural "Temporary Vegetarian" column, I set out on my own crusade one recent evening to make mouth-watering magic happen with this exotic vegetable in mere minutes.  When cooked, dudhi's delicate nutty flavor and crisp texture is the perfect canvas for flaming hot curries and cooling yogurt dishes like raita.  My concoction?  The Thai-inspired Dry Red Curry Dudhi recipe below. 

So grab yourself a couple at one of South Florida farmer's bountiful markets.  Yup, dudhi is locally-produced by numerous growers for about a dollar a pound, people!  And if you're feeling ambitious, try the slightly more complicated - but completely authentic - Indian dish, dudhi aloo masala.  It features all of the ingredients I became smitten with abroad, which are locally available - along with dudhi - at Sweetwater Indian grocer, Spice 'N' Curry.  

Red Curry Dudhi
serves 2
2 medium dudhi
2 large cloves of garlic
1 large sweet onion
1 heaping tablespoon of Thai red chili paste
2 tsp yellow curry powder
1 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
salt to taste

Add the oil to a non-stick pan on medium heat. 
Finely dice the garlic and add to the pan (watch closely as to not brown the garlic.)
Wash and roughly chop the dudhi into bite-sized pieces and add to the pan after garlic has softened (approx. 3 minutes.) 
Slice the onion into 1/2 inch thick strips and add to the pan with the garlic and dudhi; add the chili paste.
Saute om medium high heat for about 5 minutes until the dudhi is just about tender and has caramelized with the onions.
Serve with steamed basmati rice and/or parantha bread.


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