Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Lau Chingri - Bottle Gourd with Prawns

Memories of this dish goes back to the days when back in our home in Calcutta, Maa (My Mother) would prepare a huge bowl of ‘Lau Chingri’ (Lau = Bottle Gourd, Chingri = Prawns) and I would sneak into the Kitchen before Lunch time to eat the ‘Chingri’s’ (Prawns) out of this dish. I never liked Bottle Gourd and would never eat the dish with Rice, only finished all the Prawns from this preparation before it was served to everyone for Lunch :P

Living away from home makes you realize and appreciate many things which you never approved of when they were close to you. Many of the eternal Bengali dishes made by my Mother are the biggest example of ‘these things’ in my life. Yesterday when we went out to shop for Meat, Fish and Vegetables to stock up for the week, I walked up to a Vegetable vendor and bought a Bottle Gourd, I also bought the small Prawns without which this dish is incomplete.  Maa was indeed very happy when I told her I was making ‘Lau Chingri’ as she cannot imagine her daughter  eating anything which remotely resembles a Vegetable .. Yes, that’s the impression I have given everyone in my growing up years :P What she told me was this dish will have the special Bengali touch and be ‘Mishti-Mishti’ (with a hint of sweetness) in taste. So while making this dish, one needs to keep in mind, that the Sugar is a must in this dish, if not it will be anything but ‘Bengali Lau Chingri’ :D

Here is what you will need to make Lau Chingri (Bottle Gourd with Prawns):

Bottle Gourd - 1 thinly sliced like shown in the Picture, mine weighed 500 gms

Prawns – I used small ones – 250 gms
Tomato – 1 medium – chopped
Green Chilies – 3 / to taste – chopped
Ginger – ½ “ - grated
Bay Leaf – 1
Cinnamon – 1” stick
Green Cardamoms – 2-3
Cloves – 2
Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder – 1 tsp
Red Chili Powder – 1 tsp
Cumin Powder – 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Sugar to balance (a little more than in normal dishes)
Cooking Oil – 2 tbsp

How to prepare ‘Lau Chingri’ (Bottle Gourd with Prawns):

De-vein, clean and wash the Prawns

Smear Salt, Turmeric Powder and Red Chili Powder on the Prawns and fry them in hot Oil for 3 minutes and set aside

Use the same Oil as it has become flavorful from frying the Prawns in them, add the Cumin Seeds and let them sizzle

Add the Bay Leaf, Cinnamon, Green Cardamoms and Cloves and let them splutter

Add the Tomatoes and the Green Chilies and cook till the Tomatoes become mushy

Add the Sugar and stir it in (Adding Sugar while adding Tomatoes enhances the color of the dish)

Add the grated Ginger and cook for a minute or two

Add the Bottle Gourd in, there is no need to add any additional Water to this dish for the Bottle Gourd to cook as it will release a lot of Water itself and cook in its own liquid

Add Turmeric Powder, Red Chili Powder, Cumin Powder and Salt and mix

The Bottle Gourd will release a lot of liquid and get cooked at the same time, it will also reduce in quantity in the process

This will be a dry dish hence make sure all the liquid has dried up in the end

The Bottle Gourd will be done by the time the liquid evaporates, add the fried Prawns in, mix it one final time and turn off the Stove

Serve with Steamed Rice

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