Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Snake Gourd Side Dish (Poddaley Upkari/ Padwal chi Bhaaji)

Fall is one of my favorite season primarily because we find the freshest of Gourds in various sizes and shapes, brightest greens and the crisp air makes me reach out to the warm food and slurpy hot soups cooking on the stove. A good bowl of Poddaley Upkari, is comforting and nurturing. As guilty as charged, this was one dish I despised as a kid and today I crave for this super delicious Upkari. The Snake Gourd is known as Poddaley in Konkani, Padwalkaayi in Kannada and Padwal in Marathi/ Kokani.

I know many who still detest this motley vegetable. :) In my home, my Mom had certain rules which we had to obey, one of them being following table manners and guest visit manners. It meant that while we had guests at home and while we visited our friends and family for breakfast/ lunches/ dinners we graciously respect what is served on our plate and never fuss around and most importantly behave in theory and practice. If we disliked something, we were told to take a tiny portion and not offend our guests. If we crossed our boundaries, when we reached home, we got to hear the music for days together!

Since I hated eating this vegetable, she always told me to take one tablespoon of any dish in my plate which I never liked; but I stealthily obeyed and obliged out of love, even if I hated it at that point. Later as I grew up, I began craving for the same vegetable in question. Strange how taste buds evolve and your palate changes over a period of time! Many a times, I used to force Mom to buy the Gourd so that she would use the seeds to make Poddaley Biye Sanna Pole, which taste yummy! The golden rule of one tablespoon lingers in my mind even to this date and I follow it even for the dishes that I dislike.

~ Poddaley Upkari ~
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

Snake Gourd/ Padwal/ Poddaley (chopped) - 1 and 1/2 cup

For Seasoning -
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - 3-5
Green Chillies (slit lengthwise) - 1

For Garnish - grated coconut (fresh or frozen) [optional] - 2 tbsp

Rinse the Gourd and scrape off the outer dark skin with a knife. Once done, extract the seeds and keep aside. Chop the remaining gourd into tiny pieces and keep aside. Heat a deep dish pan with a few spoons of oil, season with mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add green chillies and give a good stir. Lower the flame and add the chopped vegetables. Add 1/2 cup of hot water, adjust salt as per taste and cover with lid on. Bring to a rolling boil and simmer on low flame for 8-10 minutes. Once water evaporates and the vegetable is completely cooked, turn off the flame and garnish with grated coconut. Serve warm as a side dish.

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