To know what exactly a Misal Paav is, you may visit Preeti’s Blog here. It’s a traditional street food from Maharashtra, made by mixing Farsaan, Moth beans sprouts, very spicy & runny gravy and Paav ( buns ) on the side. It’s extra hot in terms of spices and uses a lot of oil in preparation, much more than what’s used in normal gravies. And that spiced oil brings out that tingling taste which really does evoke all your senses 😛 I loved it nevertheless, and since most of people in crowd were from Maharashtra, they were just too happy to find something traditional in Pardes.
Coming to the recipe for today which is Lauki Kofte, this is one of my most fav dish. Bottle guard being the power house of nutrition and light on stomach has always been my fav vegetable. My roomie, when in college used to have bottleguard sabzi every day, for dinner, like All week long ! It was only on weekends that she had something else, other than Bottle guard. And it was not at all due to the fact that she loved the taste or so, it was simply because she was too prone to acnes and eating bottle guard every day helped her keeping her skin healthy and acnes at bay. It’s a true story, and if you don’t believe me you may start with having Lauki just twice a week and you are sure to see results in a few days.
The method and the long ingredients list below does look tiresome in itself, but trust me this is the best Kofta recipe I have ever got. I have made Koftas with a lot of variations, but now I am just hooked to this one. Its low in fat and tastier than most of the recipes I have had or tried in past. You can easily skip the Ginger-garlic from this recipe, and even onion too and it will still taste great. Mind you, no cream or butter is used in this recipe but you won’t find that missing at all. I have used cornflour in the Kofta mix, but that is only to be used if you are deep frying the balls and not when you are shallow frying or cooking in a paniyaram pan otherwise the koftas will get all soggy from inside.
What you need?
2 cups grated Lauki – almost a kg
2 tbsp gram flour
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp red chili powder, garam masala each
A generous pinch of Heeng ( asafoetida)
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp Cornflour – optional, only to be used if you are deep frying the balls and not
1 tbsp sesame seeds – optional
Oil for frying – quantity depends on your method of frying. I fried in Paniyaram Pan hence hardly 1 tbsp oil was used.
¼ cup yogurt + 1 tsp of corn flour
4 medium tomatoes – chopped roughly
2 medium Onions – chopped small
4-5 garlic pods, minced or made into paste
1 piece of ginger- grated or chopped as per your liking
2-3 red chilies
1 tsp Cumin seeds
2-3 cardamom pods, crushed
A pinch of nutmeg, cinnamon each
1-2 bay leaves
1 tbsp Kasuri Methi
2 tbsp Oil
Salt to taste
Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 tsp Garam Masala – optional, just to make it more spicy
How to make?
First of all squeeze the juice out of Lauki and keep it aside, we will use this same water in the gravy preparation
Now mix all the ingredients given above in the “Kofte” list except Sesame seeds and Salt and mix well. Add salt at the end, else the mixture will release water very soon.
Make small equal sized balls out of the mixture and roll them over sesame seeds. This is only to give the koftas that rich and lavish look, and also to impart extra crunchiness. It stotally optional, my koftas in the picture are not rolled over sesame
Heat oil in a wok if you are deep frying the balls and test the temperature by frying a small ball. Deep fry all the balls on low-medium temperature till the outer shell turns brown. Keep them on a kitchen towel to soak extra oil
If you are frying them in a paniyaram/ appam pan, then just use the method as you do with the usual appams and keep aside. This way the balls will take more time to get cooked, and will not be as crunchy and when they are fried deep. But then, since they have to go into the gravy any way to get all soaked up I really don’t think it does matter. Unless you have some guests coming over whom you want to impress with your cooking skills, this Appam frying method is perfectly fine for a family meal.
Anyway, coming to the gravy:
Heat oil in a pan, throw cardamom pods, bay leaves, dried red chilies and cumin seeds together and fry for half a minute.
Add in minced garlic, ginger, chopped tomatoes and onion and add salt, cinnamon and nutmeg ( if using ) to it. Cook covered for 5-7 minutes on medium flame stirring in between
Tomatoes should be really mushy and mixed up by now, if the gravy is getting dry add some water to it till tomatoes get all mashed up into a thick gravy. You may use the same water which we squeezed out from bottle guard
Now add the yogurt- cornflour mix into it and simmer for next 4-5 minutes, don’t increase the flame at this point and keep stirring in between
When the masala is all done, add cups of water ( including the one we squeezed out ) and let it come to a boiling point on a medium flame.
Turn off the flame, add koftas balls into the gravy and cover it up. Garnish with garam masala or coriander leaves just before serving.
Don’t keep the grated bottle guard out for long, it will lose its colour and texture too.
Don’t use sesame seeds, if the weather is very hot since they are of warm taseer and might give you stomach problems
Don’t let the Kofta balls kept in the gravy for too long, not more than 30 minutes else they will start breaking up absorbing all the water from the gravy
While re heating, you may have to add more water to adjust the consistency of the gravy
I have noticed that the Koftas cooked in Appam Pan are less likely to break apart easily than the ones those are deep fried. The Deep fried ones are obviously softer and lighter in texture
While making gravy, you may use a dash of butter with the oil for that extra rich flavour