Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Message in a bottle

Till my homeopath enlightened me on the powers of doodhi (aka lauki aka bottle gourd), I was one of those people who ate it ungrudgingly whenever my mother threw it into a dal, or turned it into a halwa if she felt particularly generous. I always thought it was one of those poor, innocuous, bland vegetables one cooked when one didn’t want to get particularly creative, or had a choice, or was just looking for comfort food.

And then I met Dr Padam, my homeopath who couldn’t stop extolling the virtues of doodhi, and how it could reverse my near-anemia at that point. Today, I am hooked onto doodhi, and so are my cats (apparently it’s great for animals too) and I religiously have it at least twice a week, and the cat of course gets it in her broth everyday, along with rice, masoor dal, pieces of carrots, chicken or fish (do email me for a pet food recipe)

I am told that the doodhi (which is allegedly 96% water) is a star in the Indian Ayurvedic medical system and has tremendous healing powers. Consider its benefits (carnivores, move on): It’s cooling, and calming—makes you relax after eating. It’s an alkanine diuretic: a glass of fresh lauki juice mixed with limejuice combats the burning sensation caused by the high acidity of urine. Lauki juice is also an excellent remedy for excessive thirst caused by diarrhoea over consumption of fatty or fried foods. A glass of lauki juice with a little salt added to it prevents excessive loss of sodium, satiating thirst and keeping you refreshed in summer.

And for those size zero aspirants, here’s more news. Doodhi is almost zero on calories, so can give you that illusion of having eaten without adding up those inches. Also recommended for those suffering from digestive problems, are diabetic or convalescing.

But of course I still haven’t got to the point where I have doodhi juice first thing in the morning as my health shot. It’s just too much work, and besides, my nariyalpaniwala is highly dependable. But some of my friends have gone the morning cuppa doodhi route and continue to do so. Some have given up halfway, and resorted to adding doodhi as a filler in soups (along with tomato, carrots, beetroot, and what have you). Sounds good to me. The doodhi doesn’t seem to make much fuss about who it can get along with in the vegetable kingdom.

As for moi, I am still celebrating a yoghurt-based doodhi recipe I learnt from my friend Jennifer, the only carnivore I know who can do veggies well.

Jenny's Doodhi in yoghurt sauce

What you need:

Half a doodhi, chopped

Two tomatoes

One onion

One green chilli

Ginger garlic paste

Yoghurt 200 gm

Curry leaves

Salt to taste


Chop the doodhi into small pieces.

Heat oil in a pan and throw in some cumin seeds. When they splutter, add the green chilli and the curry leaves, fry well.

Now add the onions and sauté, adding the tomatoes and the ginger garlic paste as they turn soft.

Add water if required and cook till it all comes together.

Add the chopped doodhi, and mix well, adding salt and haldi.

Add a cup of water and pressure cook for two whistles.

When cool, beat a cup of yoghurt and add it to the doodhi gravy.

Serve with rice or rotis.

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