Thursday, 8 November 2012

What a teasel!

Kantola (Spiny or teasel gourd) subji

Spiny and bitter, strange green hedgehog like, wild, rare and not easily and widely available, not very well known nor popular, yet - very pricey, almost haughty! 

Is this some sort of a mythical being?  A hairy fairy – a leprechaun?

Well almost! It’s the magical Kantola, Kartula or Teasel/Spiny Gourd!

I had the much longed for opportunity to relish this much-craved vegetable after years!

Of course, in between lay the innumerable sorry attempts at buying umpteen packs of different brands of the frozen variety in Ozland and the ever- optimistic methods deployed to prepare the simple bhaji of my dreams out of the soggy contents of the packs.

But all that angst is forgotten when I sight the fresh vegetable, a delicacy par excellence! (And a tight little bomb of phytochemicals, fibre and natural insulin) 

The thick skin and prickly spines add a crunch, while the firm pale flesh is a cheeky chew. The seeds are a good bite if tender, and a bit of a fight when not.  The taste is indescribable, if somewhat bitter. 

Greatly enthused I set out to cook this wonder-veggie!

You’d anticipate some elaborate process, but really, the slicing is the only task that requires an effort.

Sautéed till tender in a tadka made with a tablespoon of oil, seasoned with salt,  chilli powder, dhaniya and jeera powder and a bit of sugar (optional) and shallow fried a little more, the bhaji is ready to be – devoured. Ok- with dal and rice or rotis or bhakris…

Recipe? … What recipe? 

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