Apr 15, 2011

Made for each other – Lauki and Chana

This post was waiting to be written for the last few days and not the least because I am hosting MLAA-34. As a host, it would be rude of me not to cook a legume based dish. Yet, every time I sat down to write, some distraction would occupy me before I had to call it a night. Yesterday, it was this rant of Sandeepa over at Bong Mom's Cookbook. She took the words out of my mouth when she questioned why women swoon over a husband who does simple chores around the house and call the woman he is married to lucky.

As one of those “lucky woman” I can tell you, my better half does do a lot around the house, from making the weekly vegetable stock, to making the daily morning tea, unloading the dishwasher and cooking the  occasional risotto. But he does the chores around the house for the same reasons I do the rest of the drudge work and duties of a chauffeur, teacher and entertainer for our five year old. It is a marriage and a partnership where everyone pitches in to the best of their abilities.
As a gesture of appreciation for all that I do around the house, he tries to keep the work stations clean and dishes to a minimum when he cooks. I, on the other hand, cook his favorite vegetables, as and when it suits my fancy. Like lauki (bottle gourd) cooked with chana dal, which incidentally is also my favorite way of eating this bland vegetable. I like my chana to have a bite to it but since he likes his mushy, I make a concession for him and pressure cook the concoction to his liking. I do draw the line at his mom’s bhakri which is a thick tortilla made with stiff dough of whole wheat flour mixed with turmeric, red chili powder and plenty of oil. It takes a lot of muscle to roll out those delicious rounds of dough and after one try, I decided I did not care much for making them.
Bottle Gourd

Lauki, dudhi, bottlegourd.

The lauki chana dal sabzi, on the other hand, is quick, almost fool proof and is a “made-for-each-other-combo”. At least that is what I wrote when Manisha put up her photo of lauki dal on Facebook and my comment got an instant ‘like’ for it. So Susan, here is, hopefully, the first of my at least two submissions to your brilliant event.

Lauki Chana Dal

4 cups of lauki , peeled and cut into bite size chunks
1/4 cup chana dal, soaked in water for at least 2-3 hours
1 small tomato, cut into chunks
1/2 vegetable stock or water

For tadka or tempering:
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp asafetida
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced fine
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp dhana-jeera (cumin coriander) powder
1 tsp garam masala or sabzi masala
Pinch of sugar
Salt to taste

Heat 1/2 tbsp of oil in a 3 or 4ltr pressure cooker. Add the cumin seeds, asafetida and minced garlic. Turn down the heat so the garlic cooks and softens but does not burn. Add the turmeric; stir it till the raw smell turns fragrant.
Drain the water from the chana dal and toss it in the garlic, cumin, and turmeric infused oil. Add a dash of salt, stir, and let cook for two minutes. Add the red chili powder, dhana-jeera and garam masal. Stir and add the chopped tomatoes. Cover and cook on medium heat till the tomatoes get mushy.

Bottle Gourd

Cross section of dudhi/ lauki/ bottlegourd.
Courtesy: Indianfoodrocks
Add the chopped lauki, salt to taste, mix everything gently. Add the vegetable stock and bring everything to a gentle boil. Put on the lid and pressure cook for one whistle.
Wait for the pressure to subside, transfer the dal lauki to a serving bowl, garnish with coriander and serve with rotis.
Note: The spice proportions are what work for me. However, lauki being a bland vegetable as well of varying sizes, feel free to add more of the red chili or garam masala if you like it spicier. The above proportions are for the big lauki I had, which yielded four cups chopped.

If, for some reason, you do not own a pressure cooker, cook the lauki and chana dal in a lidded pot. Cook till the chana dal is tender and the lauki is cooked through.

A reader of mine in India once wrote to me that she found my baingan bharta bland because she followed the exact spice proportion in the recipe. I will reiterate what I told her, “Taste buds in our family are somewhat dulled from living in the US. Always go with your normal proportion and gut when adding spices and/or heat to any recipe on this blog, unless stated otherwise.” So, go ahead, don’t hesitate before adding that extra pinch of garam masala.


  1. Hi Jaya,
    Lovely post from you.. as usual...
    I love lauki a lot personally so great to read about the "made for each other combo"
    Happy Blogging...
    Best Wishes

  2. Thanks Rujuta, that was quick. :)

  3. I don't think I've ever made this but lauki is a staple in my house. I love the combination of ridgegourd and chana dal, used to eat it a lot when my grandmother was cooking, don't know why I don't make it often.

  4. Lovely combo: Lauki and Channa Dal...great post

  5. Mouth watering now.

    Great read, Jaya. I'm very flattered that MLLA (and Aqua) have nudged you back to cooking and writing.

    Three cheers to you and your husband for working together for the family good. : }

  6. Love this combination and it especially works for me in summers when u hardly get any veggies. I love a little goda masala and a hint of jaggery in it.

  7. I cannot agree more that they are made for each other, my favorite combo of lauki :)

    Beautiful and delicious pics !!!

  8. It is a classic combo, the lauki and chana. I cook a lot of with lauki - in sambhars and avials, but somehow don't end up making lauki chana very often.

  9. I love the cute lauki face. This is one of my favourite combos, Jaya. I used to always hog my friend's dabba in school for this one and she would hog my idlis in return:).

  10. this combo works its magic in my hearth too ! good read

  11. I think I have had this combo but never made it. We Bongs love lauki and it is a pretty common summer veggie, there is a version made with moong dal too.How nice to find one more person who doesn't do the swooning ;-)

    And about the reader's comments, i get those kinds too. I don't think it is about staying in the US, it is more about how you cook so that the meal suits everyone at home including kids and also depends on the style each home adapts. My everyday food is not very spicy at all and in fact that is how it was even at my parent's home. I find that perfect, you might not, so adjust and give me a break and don't hire me as your cook.

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  13. like u said.. it is made for each other.. nice pic !

    new to ur blog n happy to follow u..

    do visit me when u get time

  14. Jaya,
    Lauki is another vegetable that I love... your lauki and dal is purely delicious with some rotis!!
    Good luck with the MLLA 34. I will be looking forward to the entry roundup!

  15. Yes partnership.:)

    But unfortunately I have come across men who still assumes they have an invisible Ramu in the house as in India and refuse to do anything other than earn the living. So when one of those kind wake up once in a while and decides to be nice, they gain the "respect"? who knows? may be that once in a while makes them feel extremely fortunate.

    Well that lauki face makes me think of Casper:)

    I LOVE lauki, bland it might it. I make it simple with hing, tomato and ghee + green chili in the cooker and have it without anything to accompany it. Lauki chana dal is lovely. I like the dal with a bit of bite too. I will post a moong lau (lau), which ma used to make so well, and I feel like having it now.

  16. I love this combination and make almost the same way you made it , the spice level is definitely higher . Incidentally this is one of the few things we both love to have . Lauki chana and turai chana both are our favorites , i have a few pictures of both in my drafts.

    BTW ... you were writing a story and i was waiting for the second part . Did i miss something ? Normally when i miss reading some posts i go n read them all in one go ...let me see if it is there.


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