” Lauki ” or Opo squash summer stew!


We can all relate to Comfort Foods ! The need at times for cooking and tasting a bowl of memories that soothes the body and heart. I have many such moments especially when I am homesick. Lately , I have been satisfying myself with several comforting dishes. It is not just the taste of them but the entire process of cooking that is ” comforting”. While I have added many dishes to my comfort foods list, there are some that belong to the many moons ago times of growing up in India.

One such dish is a simple , rustic style squash stew.  The squash is ” lauki” in Punjabi language and best known as ” opo” squash in the American markets.

1 medium sized squash , washed, peeled, cut into medium dice( 5-7 cups approximately)

1 large yellow onion, sliced

2 -3 large tomatoes, cored and diced

1 inch piece fresh ginger, chopped fine

2 tablespoons ghee or oil of choice

1 tablespoon turmeric powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1 jalapeño , whole, ( optional)

Salt to taste

  • Heat a pan. Add ghee.
  • Add onions and sweat for 3-4 minutes, till translucent
  • Add the ginger and cook for a minute.
  • Add the squash, turmeric, coriander and jalapeño
  • Stir well to evenly coat all pieces with the dry spices
  • Add the tomatoes ,salt and a 1/4 cup water.
  • Bring to a boil. Then lower heat and let simmer, covered for about 15-20 minutes

Comforting when accompanied by stormed rice.

NOTE : I did not peel the squash as it was very fresh and tender at the Farmer’s market .

As I enjoy my bowl of ” lauki”, I also think of hot summer afternoons in Calcutta more than half a century ago!!!! A simple lunch of the stew over a bowl of hot rice , accompanied by lemon pickle and plain yogurt.

For those of us who moved far away from home and have become dual rooted in adopting another home, these comfort food memories are very special.

Wild West Smoking Hot Potatoes Desi Style ( Indian style )!

   
 
A few more weeks and we will be bidding goodbye to Summer and welcoming Fall. This potatoe dish is simple and easy and very versatile. Sits pretty with gifts off your grill! Works well as a warm potato salad or a base for chaat and chole( Indian style chickpeas).

6-8 medium red potatoes, washed and cut into quarters lengthwise

2-3 tablespoons coconut oil or an oil with a high smoking point

2 tablespoons cumin seeds

2-3 jalapeños , cut into half, lengthwise, seed it to reduce heat

1 tablespoon asafetida ( optional)

2-3 teaspoons amchur ( dry mango powder ) 

Salt to taste

1/2 cup water or more

  • Heat a pan on medium heat and add the oil. 
  • Add the cumin seeds and toast till they are dark roasted . They will smoke and snap crackle and pop. Lower heat and cover if they pop out of the pan. 
  • Now add asafetida , stir and quickly add the potatoes. Stir to coat the cumin seeds on the potatoes. Add the water and cover to cook the potatoes  on medium heat. Stir every 10 minutes. 
  • Add amchur , jalapeños and salt in about 20 minutes of cooking. Stirring well. 
  • Potatoes should be tender cooked in about 30-35 minutes and yield a sauce that has a coating consistency.

Note: the amchur gives a sour and fruity taste that balances the smoky and earthiness of the cumin. The best substitute for amchur would be a tablespoon of balsamic Vinegar.

This is an intuitive recipe for you to make it your own. Cook it by taste and your preference and it will be perfect for you. 

Enjoy