The ridge gourd is quite a classic featuring in the regional kitchens acrossIndia. It is used inNorth India, in light curries usually with ginger and tomato without a lot of seasoning. It tends to be a favored summer vegetable, since people feel that like the bottle gourd it has cooling properties. In south ofIndia, it is often cooked in lentils with a soupy spicy base not unlike the Sambhar, and the peel is often cooked up as a chutney or a relish. Finally, in easternIndia this is sometime cooked in a medley or with shrimp or in a nice and comforting sauce with crushed poppy seeds, that is called posto. The posto is a much loved creamy base that is full of all the goodness of seeds and offers a nutty and creamy vegan sauce.
I often get the ridge gourd in the winter months, because that is the time of the year that we tend to start running out of the backyard supplies and I like to pick out something that we would not otherwise enjoy!. This recipe is really very simple and cooks up in about 15-20 minutes, the only planning needed here is the time needed to soak the poppy seeds, which is essential. The soaking allows the seeds to absorb the water so that they can plump up into soft creamy smoothness when blended. I usually engage in about 10 minutes of planning most evenings before I go to sleep, to do things such as soaking the lentils or soaking seeds that I need for pastes, almost along with cleaning the table. It is effortless and does not eat into meal preparation the next day. This recipe will work will with tender young zucchini to give you similar results, although a little lacking in texture since the zucchini peel is smoother than the ridge gourd.
So, here is how you make this Bengali classic, that is comfort food in my house and when enjoyed with a serving of rice and lentils it is guaranteed to bring a smile to my husband’s face.