I remember seeing my grandmother (mums mum) sit on a small wooden seat near the door in her old woodfire kitchen and chop vegetables with the door wide open. The natural wind from the coconut trees rustled through and made the atmosphere very airy and aromatic with all the spices used in the cooking process. The kitchen had a very old look yet was filled with a mix of aromas also from the burning fire wood, coconut shells, dried coconut leaves which were all used to keep the flames up. The kitchen backyard had a curry leaf tree and a pandan leaf tree which was humongous, i wish i had taken a photo then or at least somone had but those days we knew less about the technology as kids and enjoyed playing in the garden with tiny clay pots and pans like the one our grandma used to cook. My grandma never bought curry leaves and pandan leaves as long she had the tree, as long as i know and now the house has been revamped with no trace of the golden memories.
So one day when i watched my grandma cook i saw her peel the skin off these ridge gourds and asked her what she was doing as she kept the skin separately on a basket.
She told me that the skin of the ridge gourd can be chopped and used on making a devil with prawns. I just remember her words as she told me. I have never tried it before but today i was craving for some sri lakan style vegetables and decided to cook ridge gourd which was fresh and was the only option since the pumpkin i bought turned out to be ripened and so was the jack fruit which were not suitable for cooking.
Cooking this ridge gourd is pretty simple and easy.
It’s a very tender vegetable once the skins are peeled off. I just got one ridge gourd and peeled the skin. I chopped the ridge gourde into thin pieces and washed them.
Added the ridge gourde into a pot and topped it with some chopped onions and green chillies. We usually use curry leaves but as i didn’t have any i just went with onions and green chillies only. Adding curry leaves to vegetables is a very sri lankan way and you may find almost all the vegetables with curry leaves. They give your food a very rich aroma and are said to be healthy eating them with your meals.
So my next stage was to season my ridge gourde with some salt, turmeric powder for color and a little sprinkle of chillie powder. I added a very little as my son is prone to spicy food but we usually add a generous amount. Trust me from dhal to pumpkin all we cook the same style but with a generous pinch of chillie powder. When we xook it with no chillie powder we get a bland taste maybe because we are used to it. It’s added to give a flavour and not to make the vegetable spicy so anyone can eat the vegetables cook in this sort.
I drizzled a bit of oil and kept the pot covered on a very low flame to cook in it’s own juice. This vegetable has a lot of water inside it although it looks rough and hard as it cooks it releases a very good amount of water which helps the ridge gourd cook on its own juice. After about 8 minutes of which i checked the water level a few times making sure i don’t burn the vegetable i poured some thick coconut milk about 1/2 cup with 1/3 of a cup of water but we usually add thick and thin coconut milk only. I follow the lazy way unlike the traditional which is to scrape coconut and squeeze out the milk and then use ot to cook our vegetables, nowadays i get the ready to use coconut milk powder and dilute in water to make my vegetable curry as i find it difficult to buy a coconut scraper and squeeze the milk just to cook for two.yes the scrapped coconut is readily available but i opt out of the squeezing process too.
Trust me the beauty and pleasure of doing thing in the traditional way is really a very wonderful experience and i miss it. In sri lanka thats how i used to cook. Scrape coconuts and squeeze milk, i used to even store the milk in the fridge for a couple of days and use.
Ok the ridge gourde is tender now i guess. So i made sure the coconut milk has boiled very well amd turned off the heat after tasting my salt level. The vegetable should have enough salt and never be of less salt unless you are on a medication and restricted from eating salt cos salt is what enhances the vegetables taste.
Well now the rudge gourd is ready serve it with rice and a spicy fish, chicken or beef curry we usually go for mutton or fish 🙂
How to clean the ridge gourd :
You may find sharp ridges on the gourd carefully scrape of the ridges only after which you will get thin sharp strips of ridges throw it away.
Now start carefully peeling the skin without taking the flesh. Finally you qill find a which piece of soft fleshy vegetable.
Cut it into four and chop into thin pieces.
You will find seeds inside and it’s totally okay to eat it dont worry you won’t get any ridge gourd plabts growing in your stomach.
Now hope you didn’t throw the skin which you peeled.
Take the skin wash and chop it very finely.
Heat a pan with some oil.
Add some mustard seeds and temper some onions.
Add soms curry leaves too if your have and if your planning to eat the curry leaves which you should do just make sure to chop it finely so it would be easy to eat.
Add the ridge gourd and season it with some salt, 2 pinches of turmeric powder, some chillie powder and chilli flakes according to your level of spiciness.
If you have some Maldives fish add them now and pour a cup of water.
Cook this over a medium heat until the ridge gourd skin is very soft.
Keep checking and if you think it needs more water add another cup and cook until its tender yet crispy.
It doesn’t become tender.
Taste it and if you can bite it then its ready.
The cooking time may be around 10-15 minutes or more depending on the quantity.i used just a ridge gourds peel.
Chop and add a tomato for a richer look.
Now if your adding prawns pop them in or top it off with some pickles lime and its juice and cook for 2 minutes over a high heat till the water has evaporated and the entire vegetable devil is shining with oil.
This is a ridge gourd devil which is ideal for vegetarians and you can omit the Maldives fish and just add only pickled lime. It’s so delicious and you will never feel the missing meat.
I didn’t add any prawns or maldives fish and had it with my rice and ridge gourd curry.
One vegetable two dishes in two ways 🙂