6 tasty vegetarian dishes that will change your opinion of karela and lauki
Find out how Alia Bhatt makes zucchini taste delicious
Lunch time in Bengali households is a bittersweet experience, quite literally. Instead of exploring tasty vegetarian dishes, it starts with a karela preparation. Every single day. And ends with a sugar rush-inducing mishti doi. Or dahi-cheeni if mom is feeling lazy.
That’s why a lot of Bengali kids eventually become victims of karela-centred Stockholm Syndrome. We fall in love with the mighty gourd.
Presently, I will exchange my palak paneer with my colleague’s stuffed karela without a second thought.
But the bitter gourd is just sitting on top of the iceberg of lethally boring vegetables. It’s generously supported by lauki, turai, arbi, tindli, parwal and baingan in most desi meals, since the home chef has run out of ideas for tasty vegetarian dishes.
You can escape a couple of them, but rest assured, some will creepily make an appearance in your dabbas to ruin your lunch hour at work.
And before you know, you’ll resort to Zomato’s last-minute rescue operations. For the fourth time that week.
“Our vegetables have a bad reputation of being boring. Most young parents find it difficult to feed these veggies to the kids only because they themselves hate them and are not used to eating lauki or karela for fun,” says Chef Rahul Arora, Bon Appetit and Paranthe Wali Gali, Kolkata, who often conducts workshops for young parents and designs tasty vegetarian dishes for kids.
Since we didn’t want to blindly believe his claims that all vegetables can be fun, we reached out to other chefs to find some mutual hatred towards the gross greens.
Sadly, our efforts were all in vain since they were rather enthusiastic about baingan and karela’s fraternity. Check out these tasty vegetarian dishes that make the case for the not-so-fun part of the food chain.
Tasty vegetarian dishes featuring vegetables you love to hate
Zucchini Sabzi – Alia Bhatt
1 diced zucchini
1/2 tbsp oil
1/4 tbsp black mustard seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1 chopped green chilli
1/2 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp fennel seed powder
1/4 amchoor powder
2 tbsp grated coconut
Put oil in the pan and toss in the black mustard seeds, hing, curry leaves, and green chilli, and roast.
Add the zucchini and mix to coat it with the spices.
Cover for two minutes to steam the zucchini.
Add coriander powder, cumin powder, fennel seed powder, and amchoor, and mix.
Add coconut and mix well.
Garnish with coriander leaves and serve.
Crispy Arbi with Tamarind and Mugri Salad (Serves 8-10) – Chef Thomas Zacharias
1 kg arbi, peeled and cut into half
8 tbsp tamarind chutney
2 kg hung curd
3 tsp red chilli powder
3 tsp cumin powder, toasted
1 cup mugri/rat tail radish/white radish, chopped
4 tbsp diced tomatoes
½ tsp green chilli, finely chopped
2 tbsp diced pickled onion
1 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
2 tsp pickling liquid
Sugar, salt and chaat masala to taste.
Fry arbi for about 5-8 minutes till tender. Allow to cool and then smash them to flatten.
To make the spiced yogurt, whisk the yogurt with chilli powder, sugar, cumin powder, salt and pepper. Fill the tamarind chutney and spiced yogurt in bottles and refrigerate them.
Fry the smashed arbi at 180C till crispy. Drain on a paper towel and season with salt, chilli powder and chaat masala.
Lay crispy arbi on the bottom of a plate. Drizzle tamarind and spiced yogurt. Sprinkle Mugri Salad, chaat masala, chilli powder and season.
Serve while the arbi is hot and the yogurt is cold.
Saag Galouti – Chef Thomas Zacharias
500 gm spinach
500 gm green amaranth
2 green chilli
1.5 tbsp ginger
6 tbsp ghee
1 tsp roasted jeera powder
½ tsp black salt
¼ tsp garam masala powder
85 gm besan
100 gm mango chunda (strained and chopped for filling)
50 gm mango chunda (pureed in form of chutney for plating)
100 g sabudana
25 g crushed peanuts
Salt to taste
Pick the leaves of spinach and amaranth, blanch the leaves and green chilli and puree them into a fine paste along with ginger.
Soak the sabudana, and drain. Toss sabudana with crushed peanuts and salt.
Heat ghee in a pan, add besan and cook over a low flame till it gives a nutty taste.
Add the paste and cook till it reduces to a soft pliable consistency, add salt, black salt, jeera powder and garam masala powder.
Cool the mixture and divide them into 30 gm balls, fill them with the 1 tsp of mango chunda and shape it into a tikki and crust it with the sabudana mix.
Make sure the tikkis are chilled and rested after they are shaped.
To cook the tikkis, sear them over plancha with a little bit of ghee.
Lauki Manchurian (dry) – Chef Rahul Arora
300 gm bottle gourd, grated
100 gm cauliflower, grated
75 gm carrot, grated
1 tsp sugar
4 tbsp flour
3 tbsp corn flour
1 tbsp rice flour
1 tsp baking powder
15 gm ginger
15 gm chilli
1 tbsp red chilli paste
Salt and pepper to taste
Add the chopped vegetables, flour, corn flour, rice flour, baking powder to a mixing bowl. Mix well.
Make lemon-sized balls. Heat oil and gently slide the balls and fry on medium flame.
Fry until golden brown.
Bharwan Karela – Chef Rahul Arora
6 medium sized bitter gourd
1 cup onion, chopped
1 tsp ginger, chopped
1 tsp chilli, chopped
1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
3 tbsp ghee
100 gm soya keema
1 tbsp amchur powder
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tbsp chilli powder
1 pinch asafoetida
Salt and pepper to taste
Peel the karela, make an incision and remove seeds. Apply salt on the seeds and the karela. Keep aside for 3 hours.
Heat 1 tbsp ghee and temper with hing and coriander seeds. Saute the seeds of the karela.
Add ginger, chilli, onion and saute till golden, add the dry spices and soya keema and cook it till the keema is 3/4th cooked.
Wash the salted karela and pat dry, and stuff with keema.
Tie with a thread and fry in remaining ghee. Serve hot.
Greek Salad with Bitter Gourd and Aubergine Chips – Chef Ajay Thakur
70 gm Romaine lettuce
1 medium-sized long brinjal
4 small bitter gourds
15 gm onion, sliced
2 gm black olive, sliced
30 gm red and yellow bell pepper, sliced
15 gm tomato wedges
15 gm cucumber sliced
8 gm feta cheese, crumbled
30 ml olive oil
15 ml lemon juice
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika powder
50 gm corn flour
Salt to taste
Cut the karela and the long brinjal into thin slices, sprinkle salt and store separately.
After half an hour, squeeze the excess water out of the slices.
Dust the slices individually with corn flour and deep fry till the slices turn golden brown. Remove the slices and sprinkle with paprika powder, salt and mix well.
In a large bowl, take the romaine lettuce and tear it into small bits using just your hands. Add raw vegetables and sprinkle salt.
In a small bowl, add olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and oregano, and whisk thoroughly.
Dress the salad with the mixture and mix. Garnish with the feta crumble, crisp bitter gourd and aubergine. Serve.