Stuffed Bottle-gourd

Stuffed bottle gourd
Stuffed bottle gourd in a rich gravy garnished with roasted almonds and coriander

Some dishes, like this one, remain at the back of your mind and you never really get around to cooking them. But with my bottle gourd vine bearing fruit it is only fair that I make as many different dishes as possible before the gifting to family and friends start…
This was inspired by Chef Jiggs Kalra, one of the first food writers in our country whose articles and recipes (published in The Telegraph) I read voraciously. Some of the chef’s recipes are here and here. I made a few adjustments with the recipe. Let’s get on with it starting with the filling.
6-7 potatoes
2 onions, finely grated
1 tbs besan
1 bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped
2 green chillies, diced
A quarter tsp coriander powder
A pinch of cardamom powder
A quarter tsp ginger paste
Salt to taste
Oil to fry
Boil the potatoes tilled cooked through. Cool, peel and mash.
Heat the oil in a pan. Add the onions and fry till the colour changes. Then add the besan and fry till the raw smell goes off and it gives out its unique aroma. The rest of the ingredients can go in now. Cook for a few more minutes till the spices are done then add the mashed potatoes. Mix well and keep the mixture on the heat for 4-5 minutes. Remove, cool, and check whether any adjustments need to be made with the seasoning.
The gourd:
1 bottle gourd, medium
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp chilli powder
Oil to fry
Cut off the ends of the gourd and peel off the skin. Core the inside till you get a hollow as shown in the collage.
Mix the pastes, chilli powder and lemon juice. Rub the gourd, both inside and out with this mix. Leave aside for at least 15 minutes.
Heat oil in a pan and fry the gourd on all sides till almost done. Remove and set aside.

The Gravy:
30 g unsalted butter
2 tbs oil
1 tbs besan
2 tbs yogurt
Almond paste (with 10 almonds)
2 tbs fried onion paste
4 tomatoes
1 tsp coriander powder
Chilli powder
Salt to taste
A pinch of cardamom powder
A pinch of saffron soaked in warm water  
The garnish:
12 roasted almonds
Some coriander leaves
Remove eyes from the tomatoes, cut and boil in a cup of water. When the mixture becomes soft and mushy, force through a fine mesh and set aside.
Whisk the yogurt.
Heat the butter and oil in a pan, add the besan and fry till the raw smell goes off.
Stir in the yogurt, the onion paste and the almond paste. Fry for a couple of minutes and add the tomato puree.
Now the chilli and coriander powder and the saffron can go in. Season with salt.
If the gravy is too thick, add about half a cup of warm water and mix well. Let it thicken a bit.
Sprinkle the cardamom powder and remove from the flame.
The Final Cooking:
Stuff the fried gourd with the potato filling.
Grease a baking tray with oil and preheat the oven to 180C.
Place the stuffed gourd on the tray and bake for about 10 minutes.
Then take it out and coat it with part of the gravy and bake till it’s done. This will take another 15 minutes or so.
Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving dish. Slice into similar sizes. Coat the roundels with the gravy. 
Chop the almonds and scatter them over the dish. Sprinkle the coriander leaves as a final garnish.
Stuffed bottle gourd goes very well with Indian flatbreads. The coriander powder I used was from broiled coriander seeds. I usually keep cumin and coriander in in powder form in small batches. So much easier to use and the aroma is heavenly!

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