Friday, May 29, 2015

Lau Shukto - Bottle Gourd in Mustard and White Poppy Seed Sauce

Lau Shukto
I love kitchen gadgets and finally broke down and bought a julienne-peeler. It's so easy to use and made short work of peeling and julienning 3 chayote squash.

On the menu for dinner was jumbo prawns steamed in mustard (sorshe) sauce. The ground mustard is strained for dish, but I don't feel good about discarding the pulp, so I used it for making this lau shukto. Even though I didn't use bottle gourd (lau), chayote squash tastes just like it. The former is not available in the supermarkets and requires a special trip to an Asian or Indian market, so I often substitute chayote squash for bottle gourd. Any Indian preparation that uses bottle gourd tastes just as good with this squash. Zucchini is another option that works well.

Both the mustard and white poppy seeds are ground with a green chili each and salt. The bitterness of the black mustard seeds is eliminated by soaking them in an equal quantity of salt and tap water for at least 2 hours or until the seeds turn red. They need to be rinsed thoroughly through several changes of water to get rid of the salt. I use a tea strainer to do this.

The white poppy seeds are soaked in boiling water and set aside to cool to room temperature. This softens the seeds and produces a smoother paste when blended.

This is a very quick and easy dish to prepare once the two sauces are blended. Using the julienne-peeler cut the squash in very even strips, so it took no time at all to cook.

1 bottle gourd or 3 chayote squash or zucchini, peeled and julienned
3 Tbsp. black mustard seeds, soaked in salted tap water and blended
3 Tbsp. white poppy seeds, soaked in boiling water and blended 
1 Tbsp. ginger paste
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/4 tsp. nigella/kalonji seeds
salt to taste
2 + 2 whole green chilies

  1. Soak mustard seeds in salted tap water for 2 hours, rinse, strain & blend with 1 green chili and salt to taste.
  2. Soak white poppy seeds in boiling water for 2 hours and blend with 1 green chili and salt to taste.
  3. Heat oil over medium-high heat and sputter nigella seeds.
  4. Add julienned squash, ginger and a little salt and stir well.
  5. Cover and simmer over medium heat until squash releases all its water and is cooked al dente.
  6. Pour mustard and poppy seed sauce over squash, stir well, cook for a further five minutes and garnish with remaining green chilies.
  7. Adjust salt to taste and serve with hot Basmati rice or Indian bread.

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