Ridge gourd stirfry with peas /potatoes/ carrots

Most of the time when you are cooking without a kitchen or eating out you will be providing yourself a good amount of carbohydrates, proteins and fat. What you will miss is the abundant supply of vegetables and fruits which nature has provided us. It is fine if you are cooking instant meals for few days, but if you are planning to be out of your home for several months it would be wise to eat vegetables. Take away meals will have fixed variety of vegetables. Beans, leafy vegetables and gourds hardly come in the menu.
When you are cooking for yourself you often buy cut vegetables such as tomatoes, cauliflower, carrots, frozen peas. This is because you want to avoid peeling and chopping them or you might not know what to cook with these vegetables.
Some vegetables taste good when eaten raw. But there are some vegetables which tastes better, contain more nutrients when boiled, roasted or stir-fried.
We can start adding new vegetables like radish, bottle gourd, ridge gourd, ivy gourd, green tomatoes, raw papaya, raw banana and lot more.
Buy them in small quantities. (200g-250g  would be sufficient). It will be easy to clean them too.
As we have spent certain amount of time to clean and cut them, let's save on the cooking time by using our stir-fry masalas.
(you must be having at least one homemade Instant masala in your cupboard-  Peanut masala, Chickpea pd masala, Bhakar bhaji masala, Kolhapuri onion and garlic masala or the store brought Vangi bhath masala, Chutney pd or Sambhar pd)
If you do not have ridge gourd add brinjal (aubergine or eggplant),capsicum (bell pepper), cauliflower, cabbage or french beans.

Ridge gourd stir fry
I prepared this yesterday for my daughter's lunch box. She came back from school and was asking me whether I had blogged about this stir-fry. Many of her classmates loved it. In fact they seem to like all the stir-fry I send and keep asking her the names of these vegetables.
If you do not have ridge gourd add brinjal (aubergine or eggplant),capsicum (bell pepper), cauliflower, cabbage or french beans.
I used green peas this time.

 You can use potatoes or orange colored carrots too. This will keep the stir-fry stay dry as gourds generally have lots of water content. If you want a gravy add more water and remember to check the salt.

Just adding tomatoes to this gourd with or without other veggies gives a different taste.

 Buying the ridge gourd

Always buy tender ridge gourds they are bright green in colour, there will be less peeling. If they are dull green and hard at the bigger edge you will have to peel out its entire skin. Tender ones are flexible you can easily bend them. Press the gourd at the broader end and check whether it is tender.

You can use any of the above mentioned masala pd. Taste will vary with each masala but will be equally delicious. I have used peanut masala in this.
You can use a combination of  these masalas too, some tasty combinations are-
1T Peanut masala + 1 T Chick pea pd masala,
2 tsp Vangibhath masala + 1 tbsp peanut masala or
1 tbsp Peanut or chickpea masala + 2 tsp Kolhapuri masala

There is a note at the end of this recipe for anyone who is not using these masala pd and are cooking at home with a stove top.

  • Oil - 1.5-2 tbsp (sunflower/ sesame/ peanut/ rice bran/ coconut )
  • Ridge gourd- 1 long (about 1 or 1.5 ft) - peeled and chopped into cubes or thin slices about 2 cups (400ml)
  • Fresh or frozen shelled green peas- 1\2 cup or 2 medium potatoes or carrots (should yield 1-1.5 cup cubes)
  • Onion- 1 small
  • Salt- 1/2 tsp (homemade instant masalas have salt but if using store brought sambhar or vangi bhath pd add another 1/2 tsp later)
  • Masala pd -2 tbsp ( reduce sambhar pd to 2 tsp, Kolhapuri masala to 2-3 tsp)

Optional ingredients-
  • 3 cloves of Garlic or 1/4 tsp garlic pd (optional)
  • 2 tbsp Frozen/ fresh grated coconut/ 1/4 cup coconut milk (either tetrapak or powder dissolved in water) optional (try it if you can... it will surely enhance the taste)
  • 1 tomato - it gives a nice color but is optional ( In case you are not adding coconut, adding tomato or tomato puree would make the dish taste great)
  • 1/2 tsp Garam masala or goda masala (add this if you love it)
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh coriander or cilantro ( I use it only in few dishes and this is one of them)

Cutting the ridge gourd

Wash the ridge gourd.Cut both ends of the ridge gourd.
Peel the ridges using a potato peeler and leave the peel on the gourd if it is bright green. Cut into 1 or 2 inch pieces.
Taste a piece of the gourd and check if it is bitter.
You can add the stalk along with the gourd pieces into the stir-fry or gravy, it will eliminate the bitterness.
 When the dish is done just take out the stalk and discard it.

You can peel the skin entirely and cut it into thin slices if desired. The peels can be used in preparing a tasty chutney.

Thaw the green peas. Wash the potatoes or carrots thoroughly. You can use them peeled or unpeeled.
Put in 1.5 tbsp oil, garlic crushed or chopped (if using garlic pd add it later with other masala), cover it with the lid and switch on the electric rice cooker to 'cook' mode.
After few mins add chopped onions and salt into the pan ,cover it with the lid and check if the electric rice cooker is still in 'cook' mode, if not press the 'cook' button.
Let the onions cook and become translucent, add the ridge gourd pieces and stir-fry for a few secs.
Cover and cook for 3 mins.
Open and add 1/4 cup water and green peas.Cover and let it cook till peas are tender.
Add the tomatoes (add it only after the peas are cooked) ,masala pd, garlic pd, salt if needed. You can add 1 tsp brown sugar too. (as store brought masala will not contain it).   
Continue cooking it for 10 mins.

Add the coconut or  coconut milk and garam masala pd and cook for 1 more min (or more if you want it dry)
Switch off the cooker and let the pan sit in the cooker for sometime.
Garnish with coriander/cilantro leaves.

Cooking on a stove top without Instant mix-
Heat oil and temper it with mustard, cumin, asafoetida, turmeric and green chilli pieces.
Follow the rest of the steps as given above.(adding garlic, onion, ridge gourd, green peas, tomatoes)
Lastly add 1 tsp red chilli pd, 1 tsp coriander pd, 3 tbsp roasted peanut pd, 1 tsp brown sugar or jaggery instead of the Instant masala.
Add grated coconut and cook for some time.

Adding more water or thinner coconut milk will give you a gravy. This goes well with plain steamed rice.

Keep the stir fry for sometime to cool. It will become slightly dry and will be easier to carry in lunch box. Eat with bread or rotis.

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