Sunday, 11 May 2014

How long is a piece of padwal?

Padwalachi Bhaji (Snake Gourd with Chana Dal)

The other day, the husband went hunting for vegges in the desi market and returned with the aplomb of his hunter/gatherer forefathers, sporting trophies - a bagful of glossy purple little baingans, some crisp kairis, a lissome lauki and two svelte snake gourds.

As usual, I was eagerly waiting for this moment, bursting with the suspense. There is some strange serendipitous pleasure in going through the shopping bags and discovering the catch of the day.

This time the joy of baingans and kairis was outshone by another delight – the snake gourds or padwals. 

For some reason, I hadn’t seen any in the Indian stores in the last couple of years. Frozen padwals are an absolute monstrosity.

 I looked forward to cooking them. But what shall I make with them?

My heart says -  stir fry bhaji with jeera-khobra, ras bhaji, pith perleli bhaji with besan, padwal with moong dal/ chana dal, alu stuffed padwal, kootu, poriyal, avial, padwal kadhi, perugu pachadi or raita, chutney with dals, sambar or varan, padwal pakora rings, padwal .

But I had only two padwals.

How long is a piece of padwal?

I ended up making only a bhaji, a kootu and have a length saved in the fridge –for  possibilities!

The string of dishes and memories is satisfaction enough.

And I did stretch the padwal in the bhaji by adding a stray zuchhini.

The seeds and stuff from within, though never discarded if nice and tender in the family tradition, also helped pad up the padwals …

Padwalachi Bhaji (Snake Gourd with Chana Dal)


2 cups sliced padwal (cut the padwal length wise into half and then slice. You don’t need to peel it if the skin is clean, just scrub it well to remove any waxiness. No need to remove the fibre and seeds, if they are tender)
1 zucchini, sliced
3 tbsp chana dal, soaked for 30 minutes and drained
1-2 tsp oil
½ tsp mustard seeds
A pinch of hing
A pinch of turmeric powder
1 – 2 green chillies
3-4 curry leaves
Freshly grated coconut ground together with 1 tsp cumin
Chopped coriander leaves
Salt to taste and a pinch of sugar


Heat oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds to crackle. Then add the chillies, curry leaves, hing and turmeric. Add the sliced padwal and zucchini slices and mix. Then sprinkle the chana dal. The dal will cook with the steam from the padwal. Cover with a lid and cook on low heat for about 10 minutes, or until the padwal slices look translucent.

When done add salt to taste, a pinch of sugar and the cumin-coconut mixture and mix well.  Remove from heat. Garnish with chopped coriander.

Serve with rice, chapati or bhakri.

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