14 July, 2008

One of 660 Curries: Bharwan Lauki

Bharwan Lauki

Other day I read this interview at Star Tribune which was forwarded to me by one of my good friend who reads my blog regularly. The interview was with Raghavan Iyer, the author of cookbook called “The Turmeric Trail: Recipes and Memories from an Indian Childhood”. There he was talking about his new cookbook with over 832 pages filled with curry recipes, “660 Curries: The Gateway to Indian Cooking”.

What is Curry?
In England and the rest of the world, "curry" describes anything Indian that is mottled with hot spices, with or without a sauce, and "curry powder" is the blend that delivers it. In keeping with my culture, I define a curry as any dish that consists of meat, fish, poultry, legumes, vegetables, or fruits, simmered in or covered with a sauce, gravy, or other liquid that is redolent of spices and/or herbs. (Page 3)
Raghavan clarifies that curry isn’t about the dish spiced from a jar labeled “curry powder” that most of the western world is familiar with, but gravy. His quote “No self-respecting Indian kitchen world would have curry powder” was enough to make me itch to have his book in my hands. Then I read raving review at Juglabandi’s (15 Dudhi/Bottle Gourds recipes is what got my full attention as I am a sucker for Dudhi). And surprise, surprise!!! 660 Curries is one of my birthday loot from my much-better-half :) I was thrilled to get hold of this book (and also other gifts which Krish bought me keeping my blog in mind;) and in last 3 days we have had tried 3 recipes from this book with outstanding results. Wonder of wonder, no two curries taste the same!!! No wonder we are addicted to this near-encyclopedic curry bible and we will be cooking and posting many more recipes here in Monsoon Spice.
“I wanted it to be as if a cooking teacher is talking, so there is more explanation, as if I'm there".
Other than over 700 recipes (701 to be precise, 660 curries and the remainder for what he calls cohorts), what we loved about this mammoth of a book is the way in which the author has given the recipe instruction. He not only gives substitutes for the ingredients which may not be available in non-Indian kitchens but also clear cut and precise recipe instruction which is very easy to follow even for the novice cooks and those who are unfamiliar with Indian cooking techniques. Well not every author gives you step-by-step instructions as how to clean the lentils before using!!! This book is a labour of love and it shows in each and every recipe given. No wonder he claims his 4 years journey to get this book written and published was like “giving birth to a horse”!!!

The book has neatly written glossary lists for almost every ingredient used in all 701 recipes and also clear metric conversion charts for quantities and temperature. And what more, the author also gives mail-order sources for particular ingredients which otherwise may not be available outside India. From “Appetizer Curries” to “Contemporary Curries”, this book has it all. About 25%-30% recipes are non-vegetarian and there is one whole chapter dedicated to “Paneer based Curries” for all you Paneer lovers.

In almost all the recipes Raghavan uses his background as a chemist to describe the process of “building” the recipes based on these elements he describes in his first chapter “The Curry Quest” which is a must read if you are practically new to Indian cooking. Raghavan’s quest for bringing the Indian subcontinent to the western kitchen has surely won our heart.
The downside of this book?
One, there are not many glossy photographs which are my weakness. Second, once you have chosen a recipe, you may need to refer to some other recipe for particular ingredient required. Third, it would have been better if author could have given approximate estimation of preparation and cooking time for every recipe which would give us rough idea as how long it will take to get the food on your table.
But when you think of it, it is not exactly the downside. First of all the book is so thick, adding more picture will only mean more weight. And no glossy photo means you can imagine the end-product and thus makes you eager to cook and taste it (and you won’t get complex when you compare the dish you cooked with those extra glossy, out of this world food photographs;). And as per the flipping the pages to and fro, most of the spice blends will be ready in hand in almost every Indian kitchen and it is not necessary to give recipe of Garam Masala which is used in almost 30% of recipes.
What I love about this book?
What? You sure are reading this post right? With all the things mentioned above, you can’t fail to notice that each and every recipe is well researched with detailed step-by-step instructions which sure to please both novice and expert cook. The recipes are both authentic and creative. Overall a must have book for every Indian food lovers.
One of the curries I tried from this book is Bharwan Lauki or Potato Stuffed Dudhi/Bottle Gourd. Oh yes!! One of the main reasons for my quest to purchase this book was the fact that it has 15 bottle gourd recipes and I was not disappointed with the end result. Bottle gourd was never this sizzling hot before. Bottle gourd ‘boats’ stuffed with spiced mashed potatoes and cooked with chopped tomato masala. Just the title was enough to make me all excited as it was something which I have had never heard of and never tasted. It was delicious alright and it was one fancy looking dish too. These delicious Squash boats goes to dear Pooja’s VOW-Bottle Gourd and also to Valli's Curry Mela. Since it was cooked for brunch with fresh Summer Vegetables and served with Paratha, it is my entry for WBB-Summer Feast hosted by yours truely:)

Bharwan Lauki/Stuffed Squash

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Bharwan Lauki (Potato Stuffed Squash/Dudhi)
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 1 hr to 1 hr 30 mins
Serves: 5-6
Recipe Source: 660 Curries: The Gateway to Indian Cooking

For Dudhi Boats:
1 medium Dudhi/Bottle Gourd
2 tbsp Coriander Leaves, finely chopped
Salt to taste

For Potato Stuffing:
2 medium Potatoes (Russet or Yukon Gold), peeled, diced, cooked, drained and roughly mashed
½ cup Reserved Water from Potato
1 small Red Onion, finely chopped
1 inch ginger, finely chopped
¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
½ tsp roasted Cumin Powder
½ tsp Coriander Powder
1 tsp Deggi Mirch or ½ tsp Cayenne (Ground Red Chilli) + ½ tsp smoked sweet Paprika (adjust acc to taste)
½ tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds (optional)
½ tbsp Kasuri Methi/Dried Fenugreek Leaves (optional)
½ tsp Sugar (optional)
½ tbsp Oil
Salt to taste

For Tomato Sauce:
1 can chopped Tomatoes
1 tsp Garam Masala (original recipe calls for Maharastrian Garam Masala)
½ tsp Kitchen King Masala (optional)
Spiced Potato Stffing & Tomato Sauce

For the Dudhi Boats:
Trim the ends of dudhi and peel it with a vegetable peeler. Slit it length-wise in middle so that you are left with two long pieces. With a help of a spoon scoop out the seeds and the surrounding spongy mass carefully so that you are left with two dudhi ‘boats’.
Place this in a large sauce pan and add about a tsp of salt. Pour in water so that the dudhi is completely immersed and cover and cook for 5-7 mins till dudhi turns limp, little transparent and is tender. Remove it from a pan and gently place it in a large oven proof dish, scooped side facing up.

For the Potato Stuffing:
Mix in turmeric, jeera, coriander and deggi mirch powder with roughly mashed potatoes and keep aside.
Heat oil in pan and add cumin seeds. When it starts to sizzle, mix in finely chopped onion and ginger and kasuri methi if using. Sauté it on medium flame till onion turns light golden brown, around 2-3 mins.
Now mix in spiced potato and mix well. Add sugar and salt to taste. Cook for 4-6 mins till potato starts to stick to the bottom of pan forming a light thin brown layer.
Stir in ½ cup of reserved water and mix well. Cook for further 2-3 mins till all the water is absorbed and the flavours are blended.

For Tomato Sauce:
In a bowl, add garam masala and kitchen king masala with canned chopped tomatoes and mix well. Keep this aside.

For Assembling:
Preheat the oven at 350 F.
First stuff the potato filling in halved dudhis making sure to cover it well. Now pour in the tomato sauce covering the dudhi well, lifting them a little to allow the juices to run under and form a thin layer which will prevent the squash from drying out when baked.
Cover the dish with tin foil and bake it undisturbed for around one hour until the potatoes are warm and squash is tender and the tomatoes are softened.

To serve:
Cut each Potato stuffed Dudhi into 3 equal pieces and sprinkle chopped coriander laves before serving. I served it with simple Jeera Rice.

Bharwan Lauki

Other Dudhi recipes blogged so far

Other useful links:

Reminder: WBB-Summer Feast

For this edition of WBB, your challenge is to cook anything with summer fruits and vegetables. Yes, the theme is WBB-Summer Feast. Go to your town/city’s Farmer’s Market and pick fresh season’s produce and make your favourite breakfast or brunch and join in the Summer Feast.

Deadline: 31st July, 2008

Please go through the guidelines and include all the required information in your post and mail when sending me your entry. Don't forget to add Your Name, Your Blog Name, Name of the Dish you cooked, Perm Link of the entry along with the gorgeous Photo of final dish.

Click Here or on the logo to find out more information on this event.


  1. What a coincidence! I just borrowed this book from the library and absolutely loved it. This book reflected what I thought about curry and how curry powder does not exsist in the Indian kitchen.
    Your dhoodi looks awesome!

  2. Looks excellent, I heard about Bharwan Aloo and not this. Will defitely try next week.

  3. Wow, that looks so good with potato filling :) Such a new recipe to try out for me :)

  4. I just love this curry. good one.

  5. I dont know how this is described in the book, but for my reference urs is the best one.....wonderful presentation.

    This is the second stuffed lauki of the day....saw a sindhi recipe somewhere with spinach filling

  6. that boat was looking yummy... want to try it once...

  7. boats look so cute & i liked the aloo masala color a lot :)
    btw, i've posted paneer stuffed lauki, u may chk it out for a variation if u like :)

  8. That does look good..I am not a big fan of dudhi, but I really do need to try it after seeing how tasty yours look :)

  9. Stuffed dudhi is looking delicious..never knew bottle gourd could be cooked into such a yummy looking dish.Great pics too!!

  10. I like your template a lot very neat and professional and the pics are amazing, if you don't mind may I ask what camera do you use.

  11. Sia, i saw this dish in another blog today.It looks like a vegan meatloaf...:D.Loved it, looks yum.Loved the potato filling.

  12. This is one amazing recipe, Sia! You have presented it very well as usual, that adds to its charm.. Looks inviting!

  13. yeah the book lacks pictures and that is one reason i am refraining from getting it. other reason wud be that i am waiting for TH to buy it for my b'day too :D

  14. This recipe sounds like a new invention!! Dudhi boats look so yummy!! Nice presentation Sia! Did you tie up the dudhi with its peel?

  15. thats a lovely recipe...your pictures always makes me hungry!!!

  16. to top it all, raghavan iyer is a really nice guy.

  17. Sia..that looks great and a very nice review..now I am itching to get hold of this book...you think this lauki is curry enough for my curry mela?

  18. I like how only 1/2 tbsp of oil goes into the dish and the potato filling looks too yummy to be saved for stuffing!

  19. Love the recipe, Sia...looks so pretty :-)

  20. Superb looking boats! The pictures are enough to make us drool :)

  21. @sangeetha, lata, cham, mythreyee, srilekha, dindin, divya, maheshwari, sujatha, sowmya, bee, sunita, a&n,
    thank you girls:)

    thats very sweet of u girl:) this book is really wonderful and the recipe instruction is onething that impressed me the most among many other things:)

    i remember that recipe very well. not into paneer these days. but otherday i just felt like cooking something with paneer and bought one cube from market. yet to decide what to cook with it now:)

    thanks. i use panasonic dmc fz7 cam. it is 2 yrs old. now they have new model i guess.

    the recipes makes it for the lack of glossy pics and it is the best cookbook i own till date(not that i own many). why wait till ur b'day? go and grab urself a copy and i am sure u'll not be dissapointed.
    thats spring onion greens jyo:)

    i was thinking of cooking something else for ur curry mela as there is still many days for the deadline:)

    i can't remember how much oil the recipe calls but 1/2 tbsp is what i used. if u have noticed most of the recipes i cook doesn't use more than 1 tbsp of oil and thats how we prefer at home:)

  22. Looks lovely sia. I just tried out a bunch of recipes from 660 curries as well - its become my husbands standard "demand" reference :)

  23. wow Sia..Bharwan Lauki looks very delicious. I will try this curry very soon. Thanks for sharing this recipe and nice book

  24. i have never seen such creatively presented recipe outside restaurants till date.
    you are really amazing. thank you for sending this delicious lauki boats for Vow-Bottle gourd dear Sia.

  25. Beautiful pictures as usual Sia. I have tried some other variation of this sometime back. I will try this one soon.

  26. Love the pictures, nice review.

  27. what a lovely presentation sia..so very creative dish..that book sounds wonderful...this dish gives me a new perspective on lauki's :)..otherwise i always stuck with making a simole dish with coconut :)...gr8 entry sia..

  28. This si new to me.. lovely dear

  29. WOW Sia, this looks so yummmmm, mouth-drooling. Will try this soon!!!

  30. The boat is looking yummy and delicious....Will try definitely.Thanks for sharing....

  31. this recipe is going on my list! looks too good. Your review about the book is getting me curious too...lets see if i can find it at the library.

  32. wowo, the lauki looks so temepting. even though as a vegetable its not that exciting....
    hey sia, there is a small surprise for u chk it out here

  33. Sia I also wanted to make this for the event but cud not make it. Its a different version. will make soon. your looking very tempting :)

  34. Never had stuffed lauki before. Looks & sounds yum, Sup! Nicely presented too! K is good with gifts, huh? After 8 years of marriage, I'm yet to get a gift from N that I loved! This, despite my non-subtle hinting! :) He's getting better though! :)

  35. yummy pics..would like to come over for a meal sia:)

  36. Sups, I'm sending an icecream for your event, hope it's ok. I'm in a holiday mood now :)

  37. If you'd like to try out some other recipes from 660 Curries take a look here.


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