Leafy vegetables are often avoided in the monsoon, but gourds like karela and lauki or doodhi are popular and considered safe to consume.
As Mumbai welcomed the season's first showers last week, I was out for weekly sabji shopping in a local market where I noticed the arrival of dodka or gilki or sponge gourd.
The very sight of this vegetable took me back to my childhood. I vividly remember the creeper plant growing in our small garden in Nagpur and how every monsoon, its fresh produce would be the reason why my mom would rustle up a stir-fried dodka sabji and dodka fritters.
As a kid, I detested the veggie. It took me some time to begin to appreciate its taste. I still don't like it as much as my family does.
So, I quickly bought half a kilo of it and surprised my mom with her favorite sabji. The Sunday meal was set.
The simple and wholesome Dal Dodka Bhaji is a stir-fried preparation with gourd and Bengal gram and can be had for lunch or dinner.
I took cues from my mom and tried to replicate this dish in her style. Here's her recipe.
Dal Dodka Bhaji
- 250 gm gilki or dodka or sponge gourd, thoroughly washed and diced
- ½ cup chana dal or Bengal gram, washed and boiled till soft
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium tomato, finely chopped
- ½-inch piece ginger, minced
- 2-3 garlic pods, minced
- 1 green chilly, chopped
- ½ tsp jeera or cumin seeds
- ½ tsp rai or mustard seeds
- ½ tsp haldi or turmeric powder
- 1 tsp dhania or coriander powder
- 1 tsp red chilly powder
- ½ tsp garam masala
- Pinch hing or asafoetida
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 1 tsp sugar or jaggery, optional
- 2 tsp oil
- 1 tsp ghee
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh green dhania or coriander or cilantro, to garnish
- Salt to taste, about 1 tsp
- Water, about 2 tbsp
- Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed kadhai or saucepan over medium heat.
Add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and let it crackle.
Add the asafoetida and the curry leaves.
Add the onions and saute until translucent.
Add the minced ginger, garlic, chopped green chilly.
Add the tomatoes and saute till mushy.
Add the dry spices, except the garam masala, the boiled dal and mix and cook a few minutes.
Add the diced dodka, salt and a little water.
Add the sugar or jaggery.
Cover and cook the sabji over low heat for 10 minutes or till it's mushy.
Take off lid, sprinkle the garam masala and let it cook over low heat for a minute.
Add the ghee on top and garnish with the chopped coriander.
Serve hot with rotis or parathas or as side dish with dal and steamed rice.
Mayur's Note: This is a dry variant of the sabji. If you want a gravy, use tomato puree, add more water, and a tsp of roasted besan or chickpea flour into the sabji before you cover and cook it further.