I meditate once in a week. For me mediation is a cleansing ritual. I think of a time when everything is just zero. No best or worst, no fairness and unfairness, and no love or hate. A sublime place where there is just emptiness. And it’s not easy to get to such a place. In about 12-15 minutes of sitting with my eyes closed, I completely forget myself for 4-6 minutes. My yoga teacher would say that’s a good start. And yes, I am just starting. It is said that good, wholesome, home-made food helps the mind stay calm. Ayurveda prescribes eating seasonal fruits and vegetables without fail. After all, why should nature’s gifts be forgone in the face of diets? When favorite vegetables (in most cases potatoes, cheeses, and other starchy food) are cooked in mild spice preparations, they take care of two things: food temptations, and optimal food consumption.
Yogurt-Spiced Bitter-Gourd Curry
- 4-5 bitter gourds, washed
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 green chillies, finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 200 g raw peanuts
- 250 ml fresh, creamy yogurt
- 5 pods of cardamom, split
- 2 tspn cumin seeds
- Curry leaves from 3 stalks
- Juice of a lemon
- Extra virgin or light olive oil
– Chop the ends off the bitter gourds, and slit them vertically, just half way through.
– In a large pot, bring about a ltr or a little more salted water upto boil, and drop the gourd pieces into it. Boil for 20 min, or till a knife inserted into a piece goes in without much resistance. You could use a pressure cooker instead, but I have felt that directly boiling gives me more control over the vegetable.
– Soak peanuts in room temp water for 10 min.
– Meanwhile, make your sauce and stuffing.
– For the stuffing, in a medium sized heavy bottom dish, heat a tspn of oil, add cumin seeds, onion, chillies and garlic, and sauté till the onions are translucent.
– Grind the soaked peanuts in the processor till they are almost powder but still coarse, and add this to the onion mixture on the stove
– Add 2 tbspn of yogurt to loosen the mixture. Season with a pinch of turmeric and salt. Switch off and let it cool for a little bit. Add the cardamom pods just before you switch off. Add them, stir a bit, switch off and keep the mixture closed.
– After 20 minutes or so of boiling, strain the gourd, and run it under cold water. Stuff each piece with the mixture. Some mixture will remain.
– Now make the gravy by adding a tspn of oil to another large heavy bottomed dish on heat, and adding the remaining onion-peanut mixture. Cook for 10 seconds, and add the rest of the yogurt, salt, lemon juice, and turmeric. Let it boil for 3 minutes, and then add in the stuffed bitter gourd pieces. Coat all the pieces evenly with the yogurt sauce and let the whole thing boil and let the sauce be infused in the vegetable for about 3-4 minutes. Top it off with curry leaves tempered in a tspn of oil.
Switch off and serve hot or warm with rice or Indian bread.