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Lazeez Lauki

The bottle gourd or ‘Lauki’ is a popular vegetable of the summer season. It has cooling properties owing to its high water content. Often recommended by the Vaids and Hakims for heatstroke and other related ailments, it has been transformed by the people of this region into a delicacy. The Lazeez Lauki or literally ‘delicious’ gourd is prepared whole. Stuffed with khoya and nuts in a lightly spiced gravy.

Ingredients:

500 gms Bottle gourd (Lauki)

250 gms Khoya

200 gms Curd

25 gms Poppy seeds

25 gms Chironji

8 Cashewnuts

2 (medium sized) Onions

¼ tsp chilli powder

5 Green cardamoms

5 Cloves

1 Blade mace

1 tsp Kewra water

A pinch saffron

100 gms Ghee/oil

Salt to taste

A few springs of green coriander.

Method:

Wash and peel the gourd, and if too long then cut into two halves. Remove the pith with a knife with a thin and long blade. Prick the outside uniformly with a fork. Apply a teaspoon of salt all over and keep aside for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, fry the finely sliced onions to a golden brown and grind to a paste. Fry the cashewnuts and chironji separately in same ghee to a pink colour and remove. Coarsely chop the cashewnuts and keep in a separate kadhai. Crumble the khoya and keep stirring till it turn to a pinkish hue. Mix the fried nuts in it and keep aside. Grind the cloves, cardamoms and mace to a paste. Lightly roast the poppy seeds on a griddle and grind to a paste using some of the curd. Pat the gourd dry and fry in the ghee previously used. Evenly brown all over. Drain ghee and remove. Now in the khoya, add ¼ teaspoon of salt and 2 tablespoon of curd, blend well and stuff inside the gourd. In the curd, mix the onion paste, poppy seed paste, garam masala paste and the saffron dissolved in kewra water. Also add the chilli powder and salt and blend well. Grease a lagan, spread the curd mixture and the remainder of the ghee on it. Then cover with lid and place live charcoal fire on it. Also apply low heat from below. Cook for 30 minutes or till the gourd is done. Serve hot on a platter garnished with sprigs of coriander. Carve round sliced while serving. Tastes delicious with chapati or warqui paratha..

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