It might sound interesting for some, probably even bizarre for others, but for most Bengali’s, this is an everyday comfort food. Lau Er Khosha Bhaja literary translates to Bottle Gourd Peel Stir Fry. It is a humble side dish, typically paired with steamed white rice and lentil stew. For the past several years since I left home, I have used bottle guard so many times in several different dishes. But I never used those peels. In the process of learning to cook, I forgot some of these simple dishes that I grew up eating.
Few weeks back, bottle gourd curry was once again on my meal plan. And this time, I decided to save the peel. I was almost convinced that Arvind might not enjoy it but to my surprise, he enjoyed it more than me. From that day, I never throw bottle gourd peel anymore and Lau Er Khosha Bhaja is on the menu more often than I had ever expected.
The dish doesn’t call for heavy spices. Just some nigella seeds for that pungent kick along with some dry red chili and a couple of bay leaves. The sun-dried lentil dumplings are optional and my Mom mostly omits it but I like the texture it adds along with the earthy lentil aroma. I do add a lot of these dumplings also because Arvind just loves them.
So, if you have never thought of saving those peels, do give this everyday side dish a try. Also, if you do cook the peels in a different way, I would love to learn from you. So, please do let me know.
- 2 cups of bottle gourd peels
- 10-12 tiny dried lentil dumplings
- 1 dry red chili
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon nigella seeds
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/8 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon oil
- Using a sharp knife, slice the peels very thinly, almost like matchsticks.
- Pour enough water in a medium saucepan to boil the sliced peels. Place the pan in medium high heat and when the water is hot enough, sprinkle half of the salt and drop the sliced peels. Boil for 5 minutes and then drain it on a colander.
- Place another pan in medium heat and pour the oil. When the oil is hot enough, drop the dried lentil dumplings and fry them until they turn golden brown. Take it off in a bowl and keep it aside to be used later.
- In the same pan, add the bay leaves, dry red chili and nigella seeds. Allow it to sizzle for a few seconds and then, drop the boiled peels. Sprinkle rest of the salt, turmeric and give it a stir. Cover the pan and allow it to simmer for 5 minutes. Then, take off the lid and stir it once. Cover the pan once again and cook for 3 more minutes.
- Take off the lid and drop the fried lentil dumplings. Pour ¼ cup of water into the pan. Cover and let it cook for 5 minutes. Then, sprinkle the sugar and give it a stir. Check for salt at this point and add any, if required. If you want to make it spicy, add some green chili or chili powder. Cook for another 2 minutes and its ready to serve.