Lauki or bottle gourd is a vegetable that often gets overlooked when one is doing weekly rationing of vegetable. It often gets labelled as a vegetable that is unexciting for the palate. Everyone in family, kids and adults want to shy away from having it served in their plate.
However, you can not turn away from the immense health benefits of bottle gourd. It is almost 90% water and easy to digest which is why it is often recommended by doctors to be included in the diet by patients. It is rich with Vitamins, calcium, magnesium. Lauki juice is recommended to be consumed by those who are striving for weight loss. However, one must be also very careful with the type of Lauki one is consuming. The innocuous looking Lauki, if turns out to be bitter, should not be consumed. In recent past, there have been many cases of bottle gourd poisoning. The Lauki like other plants belonging to cucumber family (cucumber, pumpkin, melon, bottle gourd) has a complex compound known as Cucurbitacins. If cucurbitacins are found at increased levels, then the juice may turn bitter indicating that bottle gourd has turned toxic and should be discarded.
Bottle-gourd should therefore be cooked so as to get rid of any complex compounds, but if it has to be consumed raw in form of juice, then a small sample must be tasted to determine its bitterness. Exercising these cautions may help you in reaping immense health benefits of Lauki. Lauki being rich in water content is known to provide cooling effect to body, and is widely consumed during summers. It is known to reduce the blood sugar levels and can help patients suffering from diabetes. It can also provide respite from urinary tract infections.
We include Lauki in our diet in several forms. Sometimes we make dry veg preparation, sometimes it gets added to our Dal and at other times it can accompany our main in form of raita.
Raita is the form that we have come to like the most, it takes less time to make and tastes delicious. To make this raita, bottle gourd is shredded using a grater and then steamed. A dry spice powder of roasted cumin and red chilies are pounded in a mortar and pestle and this powder adds to the flavor of the raita. Then comes the interesting part where we mix all ingredients together and Raita is ready. I like this dish so much that at times I help myself with couple of servings of raita for my dinner and just skip my main altogether.
You can trick your kids into eating bottle gourd in form of raita, if they hate eating it in any other form. They would love to have this veggie in a new avatar.
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- 350 grams bottle gourd, peeled off
- 400 grams yogurt
- ½ cup fresh coriander leaves(cilantro) chopped
- 2 green chilies chopped
- 1 and ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 5 dried red chilies
- ½ tsp black salt
- ¼ tsp powdered sugar
- salt to taste
- Shred bottle gourd with a grater.
- Transfer the shredded bottle gourd onto a steamer plate with pores.
- Lower this plate into a large steamer vessel.
- Level of water in vessel below should not touch the plate.
- Cover the vessel and steam bottle gourd for 10-12 minutes on medium flame.
- Bottle gourd gets steamed in 10 minutes. If bottle gourd is not tender, it may take a little longer.
- Heat a pan and dry roast cumin seeds for a minute or two.
- Now dry roast red chilies. Pound them together into a powder.
- Whisk yogurt in a large bowl.
- Add black salt, powdered sugar, Salt, cumin and red chili powder. Mix them all.
- Now add chopped coriander leaves and green chilies. Mix them all.
- Finally add boiled bottle gourd shreds and mix.
- Refrigerate till serving time.
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