Thursday, December 20, 2012

Little Gherkins (Ivy Gourd) Stir Fried with Cashews and Coconut

This one's a childhood favourite and a constant feature in lunch menus at many traditional weddings in my community - my grandparents moved from their villages in Southern India to Mumbai city. Although I loved the dish, I (or anyone assigned to chop it up) used to hate chopping this vegetable, and to make a sizable quantity one needed at least half a kilo (1 pound) of it. Cutting each little gherkin into stick-like pieces was quite a job and no one ever wanted to be saddled with it, especially if you had to make it for lunch and dinner for a family of four or more. Chopping a smaller quantity (for two) is not so bad and it was a very peaceful hour I spent in the kitchen, making this dish and a few sides for it - a curry of white beans in coconut milk and some plain, boiled rice.

Stir Fried Gherkins (Ivy Gourd) with Cashews and Coconut

Ivy Gourd Stir Fry with Cashews and Coconut

1/2 pound ivy gourd (little gherkins)
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 dried red chilli
1 small pinch asafetida powder (optional)
3-4 fresh curry leaves
1/4 cup halved cashewnuts
2 tablespoons Olive oil (or coconut oil to make it more authentic to South Indian cuisine)
Water to cook the vegetables
3 tablespoons grated coconut
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Chopping up the gherkins - trim the ends of each little gherkin and slice it vertically into half. Slice each half vertically again into two pieces (this step is optional but the finer it is chopped, the less amount of time it takes to cook).

Add oil to a wok and heat it a little (dont smoke it). Add mustard seeds and wait for them to splutter. When that happens, add asafetida, dried red chilli and curry leaves and quickly cover the pan (the curry leaves contain water and can cause some drops of oil to splatter). You could skip the curry leaves if you want to avoid tempering them this way but they do add a great flavour to stir fried vegetables.

Add the chopped vegetables and cashews. Stir it to coat the veggies with the tempered oil. Add a little water (do not soak the vegetables in too much water as this is supposed to be a dry curry) enough to come up a couple of inches from the bottom of the wok. Cover it and cook on medium heat.

Cook it until veggies are soft (you can test by trying to cut a piece of the vegetable with a spoon; if it cuts easily, its done). Add salt, grated coconut and chopped cilantro and toss around to make sure it's well mixed.

My Veggie and Bean Bowl

Easy peasy. Great with rice and curry. Or you could eat it as is. It's really difficult to not pop in a cashew or two or three while you're tasting it.

Happy Holidays, everyone!


  1. i have no idea what this vegetable is but anything that has tradition the way you've described this dish is something i'd be interested in attempting to make ... or at least eat!

    1. Almost any vegetable can be stir fried this way - try a combination of green beans and carrots. You might find this vegetable in an Indian grocery store...if you'd like to try making it.

  2. Why are the most difficult dishes to make the best tasting ones??! Lol! I'm sure it was worth all the chopping to have your favorite childhood dish again. :)

    1. Yes! That's so true :) What's your favourite dish that could be tedious to prepare? I think the sweat and tears (exaggerating a little) make it even more delish! :D

    2. I just made my Dad's chocolate chip cookie recipe for Christmas. It is a pain to make because the batter gets so thick that it is nearly impossible to mix. It's totally worth it though when I'm sitting on the couch pigging out on the cookies with a glass of milk. ;)

    3. Hey Vinita! Happy New Year!! I'm meaning to post the cookie recipe on my blog, but I just haven't gotten around to it yet. Stay posted... :)

  3. So many wonderful flavors in this dish! I bet your kitchen smells amazing when you make this!

    1. I love the smell of coconut and the combination of veggies and nuts, especially cashews, this one's pretty aromatic :D The thing about Indian cooking - it cannot be a secret from anyone, even the neighbours ;)

  4. I'm so curious now what an ivy gourd is - I've never heard of that! But with the curry & coconut it sounds amazing.