I am so in love with the bottle gourds that I get here in the Asian stores in Toronto. Young and tender with bright spring-bud green color is how I describe the bottle gourds that I get here.
Kaddu, Split Chana Dal, Tomato
Kaddu, aka ‘Bottle gourd’ or ‘Opo squash’ in English
Dalcha refers to soupy dal preparation from Hyderabad. It can be prepared with only a vegetable, which I am writing about today, or along with meat with bone combination, also called as Daalcha Gosht. The dal with either of the combination is then simmered gently in a tomato with tempering/baghaar spices sauce that impart a beautiful aroma and flavor. Once the vegetable and meat is tender it is allowed to cook with the mashed dal. Today I prepared Dalcha with bottle gourd for my lunch along with Qimah Methi and Matar Chawal. Traditionally Dalcha is served along with Baghara Chawal and Phalli Gosht, or even along with Biryani on the side.
Kaddu, peeled and cut into Diamonds
Peel and cut bottle gourd kaddu diagonally into large diamond shapes. The kaddu that I have used today was very green and callow, so it didnt have any tough and aged seeds. If there is any fibrous central pith with mature hard seeds, I suggest you slice the central pith and discard it and use only the clean white flesh. But it not mandatory.
Kaddu Ka Dalcha
Kaddu Ka Dalcha – Bottle Gourd in Legume Soup
Chana dal/Bengal gram (or) Yellow lentils/Tuvar ki dal – 1 1/2 cups
Canola oil/Ghee – 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 2 tsp
Garlic pods – 2-3, peeled and crushed
Dried red chillies – 2, each broken into two and stalks removed
Curry leaves – 10 fresh leaves
Tomato – 2, large, ripe and red, finely chopped
Chopped Cilantro – 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Bottle gourd/Opo Squash/Kaddu – 1, medium sized, around 750 gms
Raw tamarind juice/Kacchi Imli ka juice – 4 tbsp or to taste
1. Peel the bottle gourd. Slice off and discard the top and bottom of the gourd. Cut the bottle gourd into two halves lengthwise. If the central pith of the bottle gourd contains mature seeds, discard the central pith, or if the bottle gourd is young and tender, there is no need to discard the central pith. Now cut each half into 1 inch thick strips lengthwise. Cut each strip diagonally into 2-3 inch pieces.
2. Wash the dal in two or three water changes. Drain and keep aside. In a pressure cooker, add the drained dal and 4 cups water. Add 2 tsp salt and pressure cook the dal until it is soft and well cooked. You can puree the dal in a blender and pour it back back into the saucepan and keep aside. I just mash it using a dal ghotni or use an immersion blender sometimes.
3. In a large frying pan at medium heat, pour canola oil, and as soon as it warms up, add the cumin seeds and the crushed garlic pods. After 30 seconds, add the dried red chillies and curry leaves. Immediately add the chopped tomatoes, chopped cilantro, red chilli powder, salt, turmeric and mix well. Cover the lid for about a minute. Add the chopped bottle gourd and mix well. Pour in water to cover the bottle guard pieces and cover the lid. Let cook for about 10 minutes or until the bottle gourd is tender. To check, pierce a piece of bottle gourd with the tip of a sharp knife.
4. Once the bottle gourd is tender, add this to the saucepan with the pureed dal and pour in water to dilute and achieve a thin soupy consistency. Add the tamarind juice and mix well. Taste for seasonings. Let it boil once, then simmer and let it cook for 5 minutes. Serve warm.