Lau Chingri is a quintessential Bengali side dish, enjoyed quite often during summer days. “Lau” is bottle gourd and “Chingri” is shrimp and the combination works beautifully with very minimal spices. It’s a delicacy in West Bengal, a comfort food when paired with steamed white rice.
Lau Chingri is a light summer meal as bottle gourd has high water content making it easy to digest, keeping your tummy calm during peak summer days.
Ingredients for Lau Chingri
- Bottle Gourd - Get the tender quality, so it cooks faster and doesn't have big seeds in the center. If you can't find the tender ones, and you decide to use the bigger variety, then make sure you discard the big seeds from the center.
- Medium size shrimp - I prefer to use shrimps that doesn't have skin or tail. Some uses very small variety shrimps with the skin on. And if you use the very big size, then slice the shrimp in half.
- Spices - We use bay leaves, nigella seeds, cumin seeds and whole green cardamoms in the beginning stage of cooking. Ad then we add turmeric powder for color and a little amount of cumin powder for flavor.
- Cilantro leaves - Bengali cuisines never calls for cilantro for garnish. We often use it to add a refreshing flavor.
- Green chili - The dish is mild as you can see, we add very little spices. Adding fresh green chili instead of red chili powder is very common in Bengali cooking. I add it whole for the refreshing aroma. But you can add chopped too.
- Mustard oil - We use mustard oil to prepare the dish, but you can choose vegetable oil too. We love the mild pungent aroma it adds to the dish.
Bottle gourd is known as doodhi/ lauki in north of India, also sometimes refers to as long melon. It’s a vegetable with high water content, making me smooth for your tummy. It’s also because of the high-water content, this vegetable is used a lot during summer months. You can read about the benefit of Bottle Gourd in this link
Lau Chingri is one of my favorite dish to eat with this vegetable. As for my husband, he loved lauki kofta!
VEGETARIAN VERSION OF LAU CHINGRI:
- A typical way to switch Lau Chingri to a vegetarian version is by cooking it with lentils. We call it Lau Diye Bhaja Munger Dal
- By adding shrimp and removing the dal, the dish turns into a non-vegetarian dish.
If you cannot find bottle gourd, you can prepare the exact same Lau Chingri using zucchini instead of bottle gourd.
If you look closely a lot of Bengali dishes, they don’t add any cilantro garnish. But in this dish, a good handful of cilantro leaves simply elevates the flavor. It’s not added just for garnish. So, you do need a good handful.
STEPS TO PREPARE
- Peel the bottle gourd and slice into thin strips.
- Marinate the shrimp for 10 minutes with salt and turmeric powder.
3. Fry the shrimp for 2 minutes in mustard oil and then take it off the pan.
4. To the remaining oil, add bay leaves, nigella seeds, few green cardamoms and cumin seeds. Stir it around for the spices to sizzle and release the aroma.
5. Add the slices of bottle gourd, season with salt, little sugar and turmeric powder. Stir it around for 2 minutes.
6. Add cumin powder and mix it around. Cover the pan and lower the heat. Let it simmer and cook for 10 Minutes.
7. Add the fried shrimp and mix it around. Cook for 2 minutes.
8. Finish it with fresh green chili (slit in half if you prefer more heat) and fresh cilantro leaves.
Enjoy this light and simple dish with steamed white rice.
- 1 Medium size tender bottle gourd
- 8 oz Medium size raw shrimp (Shell and tail removed)
- 2 fresh green chili (trimmed at the edge or slit in half (if you want it spicier))
- 1 tablespoon Mustard oil
- 1 to 2 bay leaves
- ½ tsp Nigella seeds
- ½ tsp Cumin seed
- 3 Green cardamoms
- ¼ teaspoon Turmeric powder
- ½ tsp Sugar
- ½ teaspoon Cumin powder
- Salt to taste
- Few springs of fresh cilantro leaves ( roughly chopped)
- Start by marinating the shrimp with salt and turmeric powder. Keep it aside for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, peel the bottle gourd and cut thin circular slices. If the bottle gourd is not tender and has big seeds, discard the center. Make multiple stacks and thinly slice like matchsticks.
- Place a wok or a saucepan in medium high heat. Pour the oil and once it hot, fry the marinated shrimp for 2 minutes and then take it off the pan.
- To the same pan, add bay leaves, nigella seeds, cumin seeds and cardamoms. Stir it around and let it sizzle for a while.
- Scatter the sliced bottle gourd and toss it around. Add salt, sugar, cumin powder and toss it around.
- Cover the pan, lower the heat and let it cook for 7 minutes. Please note, it will take more time if you are making in bigger batch.
- Add the shrimp, cilantro leaves, green chili. Stir it around and let it cook for 2 minutes.
- Serve it warm with steamed rice.