Lauki ki sabzi is one of the easiest and yummiest vegetable that brown folks tremendously enjoy! Sliced bottle gourd, tossed in spicy onions and tomatoes; this dish needs minimum ingredients to put together. It is DEFINITELY Nutritious, pairs perfectly with lentils and rice or chapati
Lauki ki sabzi or lauki ki bhujia roughly translates to bottle gourd curry. But “Bhujia” literally has no translation in English, and the closest word we go to is “curry”. But technically, this isn’t a curry at all. Its sliced bottle gourd, cooked in its own juices without adding any extra water. It eventually shrinks and becomes a sort of a scrambled vegetable dish.
If you are new to this vegetable or are attempting to make lauki ki bhujia for the first time away from home, I’ve got you covered. I’ll even tell you how to select and prepare your bottle gourd for cooking. Let’s dive right in.
Bottle Gourd (Lauki) Selection and Cutting
How to check if your bottle gourd is fresh?
- When you pick the gourd it should be firm to hold and not mushy.
- It should have minimum markings etc
- Use the tip of your nail to slightly indent the skin of the vegetable. If you feel no resistance, that means its fresh!
- The color should be as even as possible, light green or mint ice cream color
How to prepare and cut bottle gourd?
- Keep a bowl of cold water on the side
- Cut the ends of the bottle gourd around 1/2 inch thick.
- Then you can go on to peel the skin of the gourd with a peeler.
- I segment my gourd into 4 parts and place them in the bowl of water.
- Take one segment of the bottle gourd and cut it into 4 wedges. You will see seeds in the centre of the wedge. Ideally big seeds are removed from the center. Just slice the centre part off to remove the seeds. If the seeds seem small, you can let them be.
- And now comes the tedious part. SLICING. Thinly slicing the wedges to give triangular chips can sound like a daunting task. Go ahead and use your food processor with a slicer attachment to make this task breezy. You can also use a mandoline to do this step.
- You gourd is ready to cook!
NOTE: Always keep sliced or peeled gourd in water to prevent them from turning brown. IF you are not going to cook the whole gourd, keep the remaining in the fridge tightly wrapped in cling wrap.
Cooking the Lauki (bottle gourd)
The process of cooking this sabzi is actually super straight forward. You take a big pot or pan, add oil, sliced onions, chopped garlic and cumin seeds. And saute. Traditionally, when our moms made this, they used a LOT more oil then we do, because let’s face it, they could afford it. I used way less oil than traditionally used, so if you want to up that quantity, be my guest, this is a safe space! No judgement here.
The onions only need to turn translucent. Which takes about 2 to 3 minutes. Then add all the spices and saute for another 2 mins. We haven’t added any salt yet, we’ll add that later on.
NOTE: Always saute raw spices in oil for 2 to 3 minutes to temper them and create better flavors.
Now that your kitchen smells like some serious cooking is happening, introduce chopped tomatoes. And the sliced bottle gourd. Make sure to drain ALL the water before adding the lauki / gourd. Stir everything up and cover. Can you believe it! That was all the manual labor you needed to do.
It takes roughly around 15 to 20 minutes for all the water from the gourd to release and for it to become tender. A good fresh gourd wouldn’t take longer than that. Your gourd will reduce to 1/4th of its original quantity once its fully cooked.
When you see all the water has evaporated, and oil has started to separate on the sides, that’s the time you know its done. Now you add salt and stir it in well. Add whole green chilies and garnish. Cover it up again for another 5 mins. And let it simmer at low flame. And then you are readyyyyy to serve!
We usually like it with lentils and rice, but my dad loved it with a good chapati too! Have fun digging in you guys!