Spring has arrived. Tiny green leaves have appeared on the frangipani tree in my garden. The jasmines have started blooming. The cuckoo has started cooing, his plaintive tunes, pining for his lover. The mercury is steadily rising, already touching thirties around noon.
Buttermilk and ghol (to put it simplistically, a watered version of the Punjabi lassi with a dash of gondhoraj lebu) have returned from their winter hibernation. The neighboring green coconut seller is doing brisk business. And light summer recipes are back.
This one is one of my favorites, Doodh Jhinge, jhinge (turai or ridge gourd) cooked in milk tempered with mustard seeds. I learnt this from my father-in-law, himself a great cook, and it is a regular on our lunch menus through the summer.
Doodh jhinge ( Ridge gourd cooked in milk)
- 500 g jhinge or ridgegourd peeled, cut lengthwise into two halves and finely sliced
- 200 ml milk
- 2 tsp ginger paste
- 3 - 4 green chillies slit
- 2 dry red chillies
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- 2 tsp mustard oil
- 1 tsp ghee
- 1 tbsp sugar
- salt to taste
- Heat oil, add mustard seeds and whole red chillies. When the mustard starts spluttering, add the jhinge.
- Add the sugar, salt and ginger paste and cook on a moderate flame till the water released by the jhinge has almost dried up. Add the green chillies.
- Lower the flame and slowly add the milk. (Be careful that the milk doesnt curdle, you might want to add a pinch of gram flour to the milk to prevent it from splitting).
- Cook for another 10 minutes.
- Check that the sugar and salt are just right, add the ghee and serve with steamed rice.