Wednesday 4 July 2012


Have you ever met anyone who does Italian seasoning with masoor dal? Or talks of mozzarella cheese as if it were an attractive dame? Or someone who finds non-vegetarian fare the most unimaginative because the area to experiment with, is the vegetarian? No? So probably, you haven't met Saurabh Vig, as yet. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Principal Partner (Marketing & BD) in one of the leading training services of the country, Saurabh is a charismatic personality, who has risen to great heights in the current organization because he 'applied himself'. He goes on to explain that though he had none of the skills that training normally requires, he was quick-witted & sharp. He picked up the ropes faster than his peer and wields a clout today that his contemporaries don't. As a business meeting turned to the less-formal food discussion, one almost knew by gut that this is an association that will go long. 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        That night I was making nenua for dinner. A vegetable looked down upon by the populace,  the Sponge Gourd/ Vegetable Sponge/dhudul(Bangla) is a favourite in my house. What makes it more sought after is its medicinal properties. The dried fruit is what becomes the loofah, used as a bath scrub. That, only if we are growing it in our garden. Which, currently, we are not. Apartments often don't give you the luxury of a garden. If forty potted plants can be called a garden, well mera dil garden garden ho gaya :) 
                                                                                                   Nenua made with chana dal is a delicacy that the health-conscious digs. A big bowl of this is good to go for dinner as the body gets its quota of greens & protein(the dal). The spice used is minimal & to chalao one litre cooking oil for a month is upto you. Ok, make that two if one sounds too parsimonious! 
                                                                                                     Here's a pretty pic of dhudul from the web before we go on to the recipe.
Dhamargava, Sponge Gourd, Indian Medicinal Plant                                                                                                       

1. 1/4 cup chana dal- soaked & boiled
2. 5-6 large nenua - peeled & cut (see pic)
3. 1 medium onion- chopped
4. 1-2 tejpatta(bay leaves)
5. 1-2 dry red chillies/as preferred
6. 1/2 tsp zeera(cumin seeds)
7. 1/2 tsp turmeric
8. 1/2 tsp ginger paste/grated
9. 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
10. Salt to taste
11. 2 tsp mustard/refined oil to cook (not more!)
1. Soak the chana dal for atleast an hour. 
Boil with a dash of grated ginger, salt & a pinch of turmeric on medium flame to 2-3 whistles. Use just 1 cup water. 
Do not overcook. The dal should remain whole. 

2. Heat oil in a wok. Add the cumin seeds, dry red chillies & tejpatta and allow to crackle.  
Saute chopped onion in the seasoning.
3. Add the nenua pieces, mix well, add salt & turmeric and cover the pan.
Keep to medium flame & let nenua cook in its own juice.
4. After 10 mins, check for tenderness, add the boiled chana dal with the water, and let curry simmer for 5-7 mins. 
Keep wok covered. Open lid if you want to dry the gravy.
5. Add the garam masala powder, let simmer for a minute and remove from flame.

                             Serve hot with roti. Or eat a whole bowl of this as it is. Healthy Eating, people!
Waiting for your exotic recipes, Saurabh :)

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