I quite like the geographical diversity in the last three posts( this one included). One from Far East, Thai Green Curry, one from the West, Pizza so this one had to be from my homeland. A dish prepared quite regularly in my household and relished especially by the adults.
In the East we often combine fish with other green vegetables. The typical Macha Jhola/Fish curry( that is staple diet in most Odiya households) has vegetables like potato, bhindi, brinjal, cauliflower etc. This makes the dish balanced in terms of nutrients, flavorsome in terms of taste and economical on the purse strings(prawns are going at Rs.400/ a kilo and a family of four could happily eat about half a kilo at one go).
Adding fish to lesser mortals like "lau/bottle gourd"(that is the standard perception about vegetables in most non-veg consuming households, a quick disclaimer I love vegetables and eat all of them without exception) gives it a face/place lift and ensures a wider appeal. Most people I know do not like Lau/Bottle gourd but absolutely love the Lau- Chingudi(prawn) combo. The sweet taste of Lau is balanced by the spicier Chingudi/prawn.
Lau Chingudi(Bottle Gourd with prawns)
Prawns/Chingudi: 200 grams(ideally the really small ones though I have used the larger sized ones here by default)
Bottle Gourd/Lau: One medium sized, chopped into cubes
Jeera/Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
Tej Pata/Bay leaves: 1/2 tsp
Salt: 1 tsp
Sugar: 1/2 tsp
Turmeric/Haldi powder:1/2 tsp
Green chillies:1/2, slit on top
Jeera/cumin powder: 1 tsp
Dhania/Corriander powder: 1 tsp
Green Corriander/Dhania patta: 2/3 tbsps
Oil: 1/2 tsp, ideally mustard oil
This is a dish with very few ingredients. The seasoning needs to be subtle and should not overpower the flavor/taste of the main ingredients namely Lau and Chingudi. Given that prawns are very high in cholesterol try and use it more like a flavoring for the dish.
Add a little bit of salt and turmeric to the prawns and shallow fry them in a Kadai. This should take you only a couple of minutes as prawns cook very quickly. Do not overcook the prawns as they would then turn rubbery. Remove.
Into the same kadai add some jeera, bay leaves, green chillies and saute for a few minutes. Then add the Lau and the rest of the seasoning(salt, sugar, turmeric powder, jeera and dhania powder).
Cover and cook for a few minutes till the Lau softens. Lau will release a lot of water as it cooks so you will need to keep opening the lid a couple of times as it cooks.
Add the cooked prawns, mix well. Cook for a few more minutes.
Garnish with the green corriander.
While making Lau Chingudi try and keep the rest of your menu simple. Maybe plain rice and a moong daal. Provided warmth, coziness and comfort.
Bon Apetit and Happy Cooking!