Achari Tori (Sponge Gourd In Pickle Sauce)

Ridge gourd is a vegetable that I buy regularly. It’s cousin, sponge gourd, is not one of my favourites. But I am never sure if this vegetable is called ridge or sponge gourd as various sources use these terms interchangeably. I therefore rarely buy the smooth one (referred to as Tori/Turai in North India). After I started to subscribe to a weekly organic basket from a farmer, this vegetable used to fill my refrigerator. As long as I had two dogs, this was not a problem as I used this to add to their food. But they passed away and my supply of sponge gourd did not stop! I have requested Hari to prepare this as a spicy dish – and he has done so. But, even then, I always had a vaguely dissatisfied feeling whenever sponge gourd was prepared. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to hunt for a really spicy recipe using sponge gourd – and came across a gem. It is for the first time that I felt this rather insipid vegetable can actually feature on the dining table.

Achari Tori

750 gms sponge gourd (tori, peerkangai – I hope I am using the right terminologies)
1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
1 green chili, slit
1 tbsp of the masala of any Indian pickle (I used the masala of my lemon pickle)
1 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder (haldi, manjal podi)
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
Salt to taste
1 tsp lemon juice
Coriander leaves to garnish
Wash and cut the sponge gourd into cubes
Set aside
Heat a wok and add onion
Sauté till they are slightly browned
Add green chili and pickle masala
Sauté for 2-3 minutes
Add the sponge gourd, turmeric powder, chili powder and salt
Cover and cook on low flame till the sponge gourd is half done
At this stage, add tomatoes and continue to cook till the sponge gourd is fully tender
Remove from flame
Add lime juice and mix well
Garnish with coriander leaves
Serve hot with red/brown rice or Indian flat breads

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