It’s not an everyday combination.
And I must confess that when my eyes rested on this ancient Bengali vegetarian recipe in a mildewed cookbook, I was sceptical on how the flavors would play.
Never shy to experiment, I cook this stew – a marriage of Iau with fried cauliflower, in a sea of pristine milk perfumed with panchforon.
And need I say, I was overjoyed at the outcome – delectable, subtle yet clean flavors, ideal for that sun-scorched afternoon when the soul yearns for light non-greasy food !!!
Lau Phulkopir Tarkari (Bottlegourd and Cauliflower in Milk)
- 300 g bottlegourd/ lau/ lauki chopped to half-moons
- 1 medium cauliflower cut to small florets
- 1 cup whole milk
- 10 - 12 lentil boris / dry dumplings
- 2 - 3 green chillies slit
- 2 dry red chillies
- 1 tsp panchforan
- 1 - 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp oil
- a dollop of ghee
- salt to taste
- Fry the cauliflower florets till they catch just a tinge of golden-brown. Keep aside. In the same oil fry the boris and keep aside.
- Now to the same oil, add the dry red chillies, bay leaves and panchforan, allow them to splutter. Throw in the lauki slices and green chillies, sprinkle a little salt and cook over a medium flame till the lauki is tender. (The lauki shall release a lot of water, do not add any extra water. Unless it's getting too dry, in which case, just splash some water)
- Now add the cauliflower florets, fried boris and give it a good stir. Lower the flame and gently pour in the milk, bring to a simmer.
- Cook till the consistency of the gravy becomes slightly thicker, if its too thick, feel free to add some more milk. Sprinkle in the sugar and adjust the salt. More green chillies if you would like a little more heat.
- Finish with a generous dollop of ghee and serve with hot rice