For a Bengali, eating ‘Lau’ is quite an essential matter, especially during summers, when the temperatures are soaring and the body thirsts for light food and dishes like so. Lau, lauki or bottle gourd is a healthy vegetable, with a large water content that makes it light, easy to digest and the best part is, you don’t need a lot of oil to cook it. Lau also has numerous other benefits; many people make juices with it, and even its skin is used to make a very yummy preparation, also famous among us Bongs, called ‘Lau er Khosha Bhaja’, or Crispy fried gourd skin 😀 This vegetable is extremely beneficial in reducing high blood pressure as well, and is a powerhouse of vitamins, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, etc.
However, I know there are many who refuse to eat Bottle Gourd because of how much they detest it.
Luckily, not me. And of the many preparations of ‘lau’, one of my favourites is LAU CHINGRI. Chingri is basically prawn, or in this case, shrimps, that is used abundantly in this recipe. My earliest memory of this dish is my ‘Didu’ or maternal grandmother making this. Not only was she extremely adept in cleaning shrimps, but she used to make this so much that I stopped eating this dish after she passed away. I just couldn’t…until today, when mom surprised me by announcing that I should prepare this, my Didu’s way….
…and so I did 🙂
Lau Chingri –
- Bottle Gourd/Lauki/Lau – 1 whole, about 700 gms, diced into medium-sized pieces
- Shrimps – 250 gms, de-veined and cleaned well
- Bay leaves – 2 or 3
- Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
- Coriander powder – 1 tbsp
- Cumin powder – 1 tsp
- Garam masala powder – 1 tsp
- Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
- Red chili powder – 1 tsp
- Salt – to taste
- Sugar – 1 tsp or a little more
- Mustard oil – 1 tbsp
- Chopped coriander – 1 cup
- First, in a large vessel, add a few drops of oil, and the cleaned shrimps, a pinch of salt and turmeric.
- Cover and let the shrimps cook (shaNtlano as we call it), or soften for 2 to 3 mins.
- Take out in a bowl when done.
- In the same vessel, add the rest of the oil, cumin seeds, bay leaves and the diced gourd. (You may pressure cook gourd if you wish)
- Season with dry masalas, salt and sugar, and cover until lauki is soft. It will have released water.
- Turn up the heat, add the shrimp, chopped coriander and allow the water to dry up almost 80%
- Check lauki to see if it’s soft thoroughly, and when done, pour into serving bowl, and have with hot steamed rice.