Lauki Amritsari Vadian Nal

[singlepic id=1897 w=120 h=40 float=left]As mentioned in my last series lauki or bottle gourd is a frequently disliked vegetable but its versatility remains unquestioned. Somehow my tryst with Lauki began only after my marriage to a Punjabi. This could have been because my mother either disliked the vegetable or was clueless as how to cook it. My mom-in-law, Usha Khullar is a very good cook, as most Moms are (though her recipes are limited to the traditional). Being a working professional, she used to quickly go through the motions of cooking before rushing off to work. However the results of her endeavors were always finger-licking delicious. Besides, being so busy, she never forayed into the realm of the exotic and the unusual. Her ‘Lauki with Amritsari Vadi’, a simple Punjabi dish, was to die for. Amritsari vadis are dried lentil dumplings, light and mouth-wateringly fragrant due to the exotic spices used in it. These vadis are also chili hot and cannot be eaten by people uninitiated to the red chili. It is said when you open a box of Amritsari Vadis the whole room should be engulfed by its delicious aroma only then can it be dubbed ‘genuine’.

In this series I would like to include recipes from different parts of India, like ‘Dudh Lau’ from Bengal, ‘Doodhi Ghosht’ (Kashmiri style), ‘Doodhi ka halva’ from Gujarat , ‘Lauki ke Kofte’ (in simple Rajasthani style) and ‘Stuffed Lauki Lucknowi’.

I would however like to start the series with a tribute to my mom-in-law by giving you her recipe for Lauki Amritsari Vadian Nal.

Ingredients:

  • ½ kg Lauki
  • 2 Amritsari Vadis
  • ½ tsp cumminseeds
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste (store bought, readymade will do)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • 1 whole red chili
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi) crushed with your fingers or ½ cup chopped coriander leaves
  • Salt and Oil to taste

Method:

  1. Heat some oil in a pressure cooker (a working woman’s blessing). Amritsari vadis are light and easily broken into bite sized pieces.
  2. Put the vadi pieces into the oil which should be moderately hot. Stir fry for half a minute.
  3. After removing the vadis from the oil, put in the cumminseeds and the whole red chili broken into pieces.
  4. Add the finely chopped onion and sauté until golden brown. Add the ginger-garlic paste and sauté for half a minute
  5. Now add the tomatoes, chili and turmeric powders and the salt.
  6. Saute for two minutes.
  7. Add the lauki and the vadis and sauté for another minute.
  8. Add ¼ cup of water and shut the cooker.
  9. After the first whistle simmer for 3 minutes, then take off the fire.
  10. Sprinkle crushed fenugreek leaves or chopped coriander leaves before serving.

This dish may be cooked in a wok or pan as well in which case cook covered until the lauki is done. When prepared in a pressure cooker there is a thin gravy that remains which I find delicious when eaten with rotis (chapattis, phulkas, parathas). If you like the dish dry, boil the mixture for a few minutes until dry.

Vinny

a trained singer and an excellent cook. She has been cooking at home for the last 32 years and is now a restauranteur. An Army officer's wife, she has travelled the length and breadth of India and has been exposed to many of the numerous variations of Indian cuisine. She likes to experiment and is particularly fond of breakfast food and meats.