Bottle Gourd Soup

I am not fond of bottle gourd (lauki, doodhi, ghia, sorakkai) at all. It is one vegetable that is available abundantly throughout the year. And it promptly arrives in my vegetable basket once a week! When I was home cooking for my dog, I used the bottle gourd up by putting it into his food. Since he passed away a couple of years ago, I started gifting it to my driver and other household help. Once in a blue moon, Hari used to make me a bottle gourd kofta, which I quite enjoyed. Last winter, it suddenly struck me that a soup with this insipid vegetable may taste quite nice. So, Hari proceeded with the necessary arrangements and presented me with this soup at lunch the next day. And it really tasted wonderful. Though I am not a full convert, I now believe there are some recipes where bottle gourd can taste outstanding. And this soup recipe is one of them.

Bottle Gourd Soup

1 small bottle gourd, diced
1/2 cup split lentils (moong dal, paasi parupu), rinsed well
1 onion, diced
1 green chili, chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp black pepper powder
1/4 tsp cumin seeds (sabut jeera, jeeragam)
A pinch of turmeric powder (haldi, manjal podi)
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
Salt to taste
2 cups water
Heat a wok and add the cumin seeds
When they begin to splutter, add the onion
Sauté till the onion is translucent
Add the bottle gourd, green chili, garlic, lentil, lemon juice, coriander leaves, black pepper powder, turmeric and salt
Mix well and cook on medium flame for a couple of minutes
Pour water and cook till the lentils are well done, say about 10 minutes
Let it cool and transfer to a blender
Blend to a soup-like consistency
Transfer to a saucepan and boil for about 3 minutes, adding more water if necessary
Remove from flame and serve either hot or chilled
Garnish with some coriander leaves just before serving

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