English: it is Calabash/ Bottle Gourd. its name sorakaya in telugu. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Tomato Lauki Sabji
Last week I went shopping for the first time to our Lafayette local indian shop. I was planning to cook rice,
sabji, dhal, and a tomato chutney. So among other things I bought some
tomatoes. I also bought a lauki or bottle gourd by mistake. The dhal receipe had actually called for bitter
gourds, so I went back to the shop and got the bitter gourd. Due to time constraints I was not able to make the tomato chutney so was left with more than a pound of tomatoes. And a louki.
I am going away for a week, and this morning I realised I had to consume the tomatoes and the louki urgently, as they wouldn't survive until I get back.
Chopped them up and then decided to look up the qualities (taste and energetics) of tomatoes, before I decide on the spices. I looked them up in Swami Sadashiva Tirtha's book "The Ayurvedic Encyclopedia". Swami Tirtha says that they increase all doshas when raw, and only Pitta when cooked. The red variety, which I had bought, is sour, astringent, hot and pungent for the stomach and heating for the intestines. He also says that when the tomatoes are cooked with mustard, cumin and tumeric, they become Tridoshic.
So I immediately roasted some mustard and cumin seeds in ghee and added the tomatoes. I then added the tumeric. It then occured to me to look up the qualities of mustard and cumin seeds. Turns out they both increase Pitta too. Tumeric in excess also increases Pitta. So I'm not quite sure how these spices can turn the Pitta aggravating tomatoes into Tridoshic. He also says that tomato's action is refrigerant. This surprised me considering that their energy is hot.
Anyway...decided this called for a talk with Ma the following day and proceeded to add the tumeric and then the louki. I then decided on some black cardamom and some fennel seeds, one of the few cooling spices I could find both in the Ayurvedic Encyclopedia book and in my cupboard.
Right at the end I added some curry leaves from the indian shop. Left them to cook for about 2 minutes. I had read that as long as one leaves the curry leaves on the stalk, they can be safely preserved in the freezer and it is true. They had been in the freezer for three days but had lost none of their flavour.
I finished the dish by adding some salt and pepper. I served it with rice, organic canned beans to which I had added some kelp, and kefir. It was delicious, even more so, because I had created this receipe myself. I was also very happy I could make something delicious without using any garlic or onion.
Here is the receipe:
7 medium size tomatoes cu in small pieces
1 louki cut in medium size pieces
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon tumeric
2 cloves black cardamom
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
5-6 curry leaves addded right at the end
1 tablespoon ghee
salt and pepper to taste
P.S. Louki is very cooling, so this in itself is enough to balance the heating quality of the tomatoes.