When I first came to California and saw the shiny,glazed white piece of a cut winter melon in an Indian store, I was overjoyed! This was the veggie with which my mom used to make a yummy savoury stew to go with rice. It is now our one pot meal when I come home tired after a day’s work!! Winter Melon though not widely found in the U.S.A, is very popular in south India especially in Madras, the city I grew up in. It is used in Northern India to make delicious Agra Petha, which is a famous sweet meat.I have to confess that until I decided to participate in the Weekend Herb Blogging(WHB) hosted by Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen , I did not have much idea about the nutritional value of this veggie. All I knew from my amma was that it was ‘good for health’ . So I did some research and found some interesting information about it.
The origin of this class of vegetable is supposed to be in South East Asia and is now grown in other parts of Asia too.These are melons grown on plants similar to cantaloupes but without their distinctive odour. They ripen late and are actually grown as fruit but eaten as vegetable. It belongs to the same group of fruits like the Honey Ball, Honeydew, Casaba, Crenshaw and Persian. Another interesting fact is that it is used in Chinese Medicine to regulate blood sugar.It also cools and detoxifies the body, quenches thirst and relieves irritability. It is also called Chinese wax gourd/ large fuzzy melon/ tallow gourd,/wax gourd,/white gourd,/winter gourd/white pumpkin. Here are some pictures of the different varieties of winter melon. The one used in this stew is usually the large round one. Now for the recipe:
This recipe serves 4
one quarter cut piece of a winter melon
1/2 cup moong dal( yellow mung beans)
1/4 tspoon turmeric powder
one or two red chilli pepper
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 cup grated coconut
3 tspoons broken urad dal ( black gram dal)
1 tspoon mustard seeds
2 tspoons vegetable oil
some curry leaves cut in to bits
some chopped cilanthro
salt to taste
Wash the moong dal,add a little water and turmeric powder to it. Pressure cook this until two whistles(one can also cook it on the stove top like any other beans) . Cut the winter melon into bite size pieces(discard the green skin and also the seeds) and cook them either in the microwave or the stove top with a little water. You know it is cooked when the pieces become soft and sort of transparent. In the meanwhile, in a flat skillet to 1 tspoon oil, add 2tspoons of urad dal, cumin seeds, red chilli pepper(s),curry leaves and fry in a medium-low flame. When the urad dal becomes golden brown, turn off the flame and add the grated coconut. After the mixture cools, grind in a blender to a smooth paste with about 2 tbspoons of water. Mix this paste with the cooked dal using a ladle.
Now for the finale: In a deep bottomed skillet fry mustard seeds ,after they pop, add the remaining urad dal in 1 tspoon of oil. Add the cooked winter melon(with water; if you have drained the water add about 1/4 cup of water) and sautee a bit. Stir in the coconut-dal mixture and a little salt. Bring the stew to a boil and switch off the stove. Garnish with chopped cilanthro.
Note: It might sound like a lot of work, but most of it is done simultaneously by the pressure cooker and the microwave. It is especially easy if the veggies are cut earlier.
Thanks Kalyn for hosting this event. I learnt a lot about this vegetable because of this. Also thanks to Nandita for hosting WHB.