Sorakaya Pulusu~Bottle Gourd in Tamarind Sauce

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Sorakaya or Lauki or Bottle Gourd is a versatile vegetable.  You can prepare  any course of the meal with this gourd; fritters, chutney, stir fries, curries, gravies and dessert as well. I have already blogged sorakaya pachadi or bottle gourd chutney in the past. Today I am here with a pulusu, a tamarind based  tangy gravy. Some like it sweet, sour and tangy, and some like it sour and tangy. My version is a tangy gravy with a teeny bit of sweetness. One would barely get a sweet taste in my pulusu. Mr.U does not like sweet in his food, specially in curries and rice. He is not very fond of pulusu either but he does eat it once in a while and when ever I prepare pulusu, I avoid sugar.

Last month was my mother-in-law’s 2nd death anniversary according to the telugu calendar and we had a small ritual at home. It was on a weekday and I did not invite anyone for the ritual. It was just the two of us and a cousin who was off from work on that particular day. I was told by friends and family that on that day, I should cook something athamma (mother-in-law) loved. One of the items I made was Sorakaya Pulusu. I don’t make pulusu that often at home and that day I wanted to prepare it as I knew she liked pulusu and decided on sorakaya. Whenever I make pulusu, I taste it a few times to adjust the spice, salt and the tanginess. On this day, I could not do that as it would be offered as prasadam. It did turn out ok but needed a little bit of fixing. After the fixing, it was delicious and I stored it in the fridge and ate it for almost a week. Anyway, pulusu always tastes better the following day. I could not take pictures that day as I was a little busy with the preparations. I made it again couple of days ago, with love, in memory of my athama and  am sending it to Gourmet Affair: Served with Love.  I am also sending this to Priya for her Cooking with Seeds: Sesame Seeds event.

Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 5-7

Print Recipe

  • ¼ cup Oil
  • ½ medium Onion or ½ cup chopped Onion
  • 4-6 Curry Leaves
  • ½ tsp Fenugreek Powder
  • ½ tsp Cumin (I did not use)
  • 2-3 tsp Ginger Garlic Paste
  • 1 medium size or 400 gm (approx.) Bottle Gourd cut into 3” pieces or desired size
  • 1 ½ tbsp Onion Paste
  • 2-3 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 2  tsp Chili Powder (adjust according to your palate)
  • ½ Turmeric Powder
  • Salt to Taste
  • 30 gm or 1/3 cup loosely packed Tamarind soaked in ½ cup of water
  • 1 – 1 ½ tbsp Sesame Seeds powder (dry roasted Sesame seeds)
  • 1  tsp Sugar
Onion Paste:
  • 1-2 tsp Oil
  • ½ medium Onion chopped or ½ cup chopped Onion
  • ½ tsp Cumin
  • ¼ tsp Fenugreek Powder
  • ½ medium Tomato chopped (normally use vine ripe but today I used Roma)
  • Prepare the onion paste by roasting onion, cumin and fenugreek powder in oil until onions are translucent and light golden color. This should take about 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes and roast until tomatoes are soft and mushy. Cool the mixture and grind to fine paste. If required, add some water. I have a small wet grinder, which is perfect for grinding pastes and grinding chutneys in small quantities.
  • Heat oil in a 3 qt pan and fry onions, curry leaves and fenugreek powder. I used 1/4 cup of oil but can use 1/3 cup oil too.  Athammma would have added 1/3 – ½ cup of oil.
  • Once the onions are translucent, add bottle gourd pieces and ginger garlic paste and fry until bottle gourd are lightly fried, about 2-3 minutes.  I covered the pan  and fried the vegetable.  Some people either deep fry or shallow fry the vegetables but I skip that step and fry my veggies when making the gravy.
  • Add coriander powder, chili powder, 1 tsp of salt, turmeric and the onion paste and stir well.  Cover and cook for another 2-3 minutes on medium high heat.  Make sure the vegetables don’t burn or add little water to prevent the masala and vegetables fro burning.
  • Meantime, extract juice/pulp from the soaked tamarind.  Keep the pulp aside and add more water to the tamarind and squeeze the tamarind to extract as much pulp as possible.  I did this twice to extract all the pulp and used about 1 cup of water to extract the pulp, which excludes the ½ cup water I soaked the tamarind in.
  • Add the tamarind pulp or juice to the cooking vegetables and salt to taste.  Remember we already added 1 tsp of salt to the mixture.  Check the consistency of the pulusu and add additional 1 – 1½ cups of water to get the required consistency.  At this point, the gravy should be a little water as we would be adding sesame powder later on, which would thicken the gravy and also simmering the gravy would make it thicker.
  • Cover the pan and  bring the gravy to a boil.  This should take about 2-3 minutes.  Mix well, cover and boil it for  another 3-4 minutes.
  • Add sesame seed powder and sugar.  Ssshhh, it is a secret!  don’t mention it to U. He doesn’t like sugar in his food.  Boil it for another 3-5 minutes or until the gourd is cooked.
  • Please don’t go by cooking time when preparing my recipes. My friends and family who have cooked in my cooking range commented that my burners are big and food cooks faster on my stove! Please use your discretion and use the cooking time as a guideline when preparing food.
  • Just as the spice level of chili powder depends on how fiery the chili is, level of tanginess of a tamarind varies from tree to tree. Tamarind from some trees are very sour and tangy, and tamarind from certain trees are very sweet. Please use the tamarind depending on how tangy  your tamarind. My tamarind is very  tangy.

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