Lauki Yakhni - Kashmiri Al Yakhni - Bottle Gourd in Fennel Infused Yogurt Sauce
It is nothing less than a war when it comes to feeding my family vegetables. When coaxing and cajoling don't work, I have sometimes had to bribe and/or threaten. The only vegetable that meets no resistance is potato. When I served this preparation, it was eyed suspiciously - the pieces of bottle gourd got poked and probed. I asked them very 'politely' to try it. They did.. and they loved it. It was only when they finished it that I told them with a triumphant smile, that it was made with bottle gourd. In our Bengali cuisine, bottle gourd is usually sliced thinly in most preparations, so I could pull this off! Yakhni is a mild but aromatic yogurt based sauce that belongs to the Kashmiri Pandit Cuisine, which was originally said to have been inspired by the Persian cuisine. I make a non-vegetarian version as well with chicken - Murg Yakhni.
- Bottle gourd cut into 3/4inch rounds (about 13 or 14 pcs)
- 1 tsp of shah jeera (caraway seeds)
- 2 sticks of cinnamon
- 2 pods each of black cardamom and green
- 1 tsp each of dried ginger powder (sonth) and fennel powder
- A pinch of asafoetida (hing)
- 2 tbs of yogurt (preferably hung curd)
- 1 tbs oil + enough for frying the bottle gourd
- Salt to taste
Cut the bottle gourd into 3/4inch rounds (about 13 or 14 pcs) and fry till these turn nice and brown on both sides. Drain the excess oil on a plate lined with paper towel and keep side.
Throw out the excess oil just so that there is about a tablespoon of oil left. Temper it with 1 tsp of shah jeera (caraway seeds), 2 sticks of cinnamon, 2 pods each of black cardamom and green cardamom. Once the spices starts spluttering in all its fragrant glory, very slowly add water to it. The water should be just enough to cover the pieces of bottle gourd. To the water add 1 tsp each of dried ginger powder (sonth) and fennel powder, and a pinch of asafoetida (hing). Add salt to taste.
Add the bottle gourd to the water and finally the yogurt goes in. Make sure to whisk the yogurt very well and add it a little bit at a time while stirring continuously. I will sometimes add 1/2 a tsp of flour to the yogurt to prevent it from curdling. Cook on low flame for few minutes and it is ready to be eaten.
#I dry roasted the fennel seeds and used a mortar and pestle to ground the seeds into a fine powder.
#Make sure to drain the excess water from the yogurt by keeping it in a strainer or cheesecloth.
Note: The mint leaves have been used for garnishing only.
I am sending this recipe to Kolkata Food Bloggers'