Ridge gourd (turai in Hindi, beerakaya in Telugu, peerkangai in Tamil, heerekayi in Kannada) is also known as luffa in English. It is not as popular outside of Indian cooking. In India, it is used quite widely in many regions. Apart from the usual suspects like curries and dals, this vegetable is even turned into a crispy snack – Heerekayi bajji, in Kannada cuisine!
This watery, bland vegetable, similar in taste to bottle gourd and sponge gourd, can be differentiated from the other gourds by the ridges around its circumference. It is an easy one to grow in the kitchen garden. The vine is a graceful addition to the garden and the leaves turn out big and bright green.
Because of its bland taste, you can pretty much combine it with any vegetable or spices. In this recipe, I have combined the chopped gourd with moong dal and lots of ginger, seasoned it with a tempering of onions, green chillies and a few whole spices. This ridge gourd dal is a mild dish – something you can rely on to soothe your stomach after a few days of eating out, or when you want simple comfort food minus too many masalas.
The other advantage of this recipe is that no pressure cooker is required. Ridge gourd and moong dal, both being quick cooking ingredients, you can simply combine them in a pot, add a splash of water and allow the whole thing to simmer until the dal is cooked, while you go about your work.
The same can also be done in an electric rice cooker.
Also check out : Peerkangai Thogayal – a chutney that is eaten with steamed rice
How to choose ridge gourd
Choose smaller sized, compact ones. Large mature gourds usually have a lot of seeds, with a very spongy interior and hardly any flesh. If you are growing ridge-gourd in the kitchen garden, pluck when they are little over a foot long and they seem to be an inch in diameter.
Like many other gourds, ridge gourd is a welcome addition to diabetics’ diets. Low in calories and carbohydrates, rich in fibre, this can be made into curries, added to dals or made into a chutney to be had with idlis and dosas.
Ridge Gourd Image credit
Ridge Gourd Dal
- 1/2 cup moong dal (yellow, split)
- 1 medium ridge gourd
- 1 teaspoon ginger juliennes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- pinch asafoetida
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 sticks cinnamon
- 2-3 green chillies chopped
- 1 small onion thinly sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon red chilli powder optional
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala powder optional
- fresh coriander for garnish
- lemon wedges
- Wash the moong dal well. Drain and soak it in warm water for 15-20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, get the rest of the ingredients ready.
- Using a good peeler, peel only the sharp ridge portion of the gourd. Do not peel the entire green skin. That can be left intact.
- Slice the gourd vertically and cut each half into a small dice.
- Bring 1 cup of water to boil in a medium saucepan, along with the ginger and turmeric.
- Drain the soaked moong dal and add it to the water in the pan along with the chopped ridge gourd.
- Season with a pinch of salt, and allow this to cook for 8-10 minutes until the dal is soft and the vegetable is also cooked but not mushy.
- While the dal is cooking, prepare the tempering.
- Heat ghee in a small pan. Sprinkle asafoetida and stir quickly, adding the rest of the ingredients - cumin, cinnamon, green chillies and onions. Fry on a high flame for 4-5 minutes, until onion is slightly brown. Stir in the red chilli powder and garam masala if using. Transfer this tempering over the cooked dal + ridge gourd. Season with salt, around 1/2 teaspoon and simmer for 1-2 minutes, thinning with 2-3 tablespoons of water if required.
- Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with steamed rice and a wedge of lemon.