Monday, March 31, 2014

Vegan Lauki Kofta Curry.....Vegan Bottle Gourd Dumpling in Indian Gravy

I have been on a mission to cook with new and challenging ingredients.  Yesterday I came across opo squash, which is also known as bottle squash or calabash. 
It is quite interesting because not only is this gourd used in many different cuisines, but also has cultural uses.  For instance, in India, many stringed instruments use it as a resonator.  In Africa, the gourd is cleaned out and used as a food container or to carry water in.

As far as taste, opo squash is pretty subtle and mild, similar to that of a zucchini.

At Japanese restaurants, I am sure you have seen kanpyo on the maki menu.  This is actually dried calabash shavings.  As far as this specific recipe, the gourd is shredded and formed into a dumpling.  If you were wondering about the name of this recipe, this may clear things up.  In India Lauki=opo squash and kofta=meatball. 

I altered this recipe a bit, so technically it is not exactly a traditional Indian recipe.  But, the small changes were definitely delicious!  Typically yogurt is added in the sauce.  Instead, I used almond milk.  I also decided to add in sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes in the gravy.  The combination of that and the tomatoes really sweetened up the spicy curry! 

Typically I do not fry, as I rather bake.  But these are terrific fried and are not greasy at all!

Lauki Kofta Curry.....Vegan Bottle Gourd Dumpling in Indian Gravy

for the dumplings:
1 opo squash, shredded
1/3 c chickpea flour (or flour of your choice)
1 green chili (I used thai green chili)
1 tbsp fresh ginger minced
2 garlic cloves minced
1 green chili minced
1 tbsp turmeric root minced
1 tbsp tamarind paste
1/4 c chopped cilantro 
salt to taste
regular flour (for rolling the dumplings)
oil for frying

Once the opo squash is shredded, salt the squash and squeeze out excess water with paper towels.  Note you may have to do this a few times because the guard has a high water content.  
With a mortar and pestle, take you ginger, garlic, turmeric root, tamarind paste and green chili, and form into a paste as much as possible.  
In a bowl, mix together the shredded squash, spiced paste and chickpea flour.  Note that the mixture will be sticky.  With your hands, roll them into small balls, while also rolling in all purpose flour.  Continue this process until your mixture is gone. 
In a deep fryer, (or you can pan fry) drop in a few dumplings at a time and fry about 1-2 minutes.  Add to your curry "gravy".

for the curry "gravy"

3 vine ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
1 yellow onion, diced
1 cup spinach, chopped
1/4 c raw cashews (optional)
2 green chilies, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced
1 tbsp turmeric root, minced
2 tbsp garam masala
2 tsp cinamin
4 cloves
2 tsp cumin
1/3 c unsweetened almond milk
1/2 c vegetable broth 
1 tbsp coconut oil

In a pot, boil the cubes of sweet potatoes for about 5 minutes or until soft.  Drain and set aside. In a large saute pan, heat oil and saute onion, garlic, ginger, green chilies and turmeric root for about 3-5 minutes.  Transfer this into a blender and add in tomatoes, sweet potatoes, almond milk and vegetable broth.  Blend until almost completely smooth.  Transfer back to saute pan and add in remaining mixture.  Simmer for about 20 minutes. 

Serve with your dumplings and homemade roti!

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