Bottle gourd is a vegetable full of health benefits. It supposedly cures urinary tract infection and even helps with insomnia. Cooked bottle gourd is perfect for warm weather because it has natural cooling properties. Bottle gourd resembles a bowling pin and is commonly found in Indian grocery stores. I like this vegetable because it is so versatile. I can make a chutney or combine it with lentils for a quick, nutritious kootu or even make a sweet pudding/halwa with it. This bottle gourd halwa recipe from Meenakshi Ammal’s “Cook and See” part 2 is a popular North Indian dessert. You can veganize this dessert by adding almond milk and leaving out the clarified butter.
1 cup shredded bottle gourd
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon clarified butter
5 raw, unsalted cashews, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon powdered cardamom
few strands of saffron
1. Peel skin from bottle gourd and remove all the seeds and soft center before shredding.
2. Squeeze the excess water from shredded bottle gourd and set it aside.
3. Place milk in a heavy bottomed pan on medium heat and bring it to a boil.
4. Add shredded bottle gourd and cook for about 10 minutes or until the raw smell goes away and bottle gourd is completely cooked.
5. Turn off the heat and blend the above to a smooth paste.
6. Heat water and sugar in a pan and bring it to a boil. Add powdered cardamom and saffron and mix well.
7. Add the bottle gourd-milk mixture and keep stirring till all the water is absorbed and the halwa starts to come off from the sides of the pan. Turn off the heat and set it aside.
8. Heat clarified butter in a pan and when it’s hot, add cashews and fry till they turn golden brown.
9. Add the cashews to the cooked halwa and mix well.
10. Serve warm or at room temperature. This halwa stores well in the refrigerator for about a week and in the freezer for a month.