The Andhra must have at a celebratory meal for vegetarians is Gutti Vankaya. Baby brinjals, stuffed and slow cooked in a medley of wonderfully aromatic spices. I found a fool proof recipe at Sailu’s food that works each time. It also works with other vegetables such as capsicums and lady fingers. However, one that i really wanted to try was this masala stuffed into ivy gourd or dondakaya as it is called in telugu. There are many versions of this dish and this one is mine. Making the masala a day before is a good idea, as this dish is cooked on very slow heat and may not be the best thing to undertake on a busy work week.
Gutti Dondakaya Kura (Serves 2-3)
20 fresh and tender ivy gourds, washed, tail and tip removed and slit lengthwise but not all the way, keeping the whole gourd intact
heat a pan of water, add salt to it and blanch the ivy gourd in this for about 4-5 minutes, till they are cooked about 50%. drain and set aside.
1 onion finely sliced
4 flakes garlic
2 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/3 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tbsp jaggery or sugar (optional- but tastes good with it)
salt to taste
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves(garnish)
For the tadka
1 tsp cumin seeds
12 curry leaves
large pinch methi seeds (menthulu,fenugreek)
Heat 1/2 tbsp oil in a pan and add the garlic cloves and onions and fry on medium heat for 7-8 minutes or till transparent. Remove from fire and cool. Grind to a paste with the coriander powder, cumin powder, chilli powder, sugar or jaggery and salt adding little water to make a thick paste.
Stuff this gently into the precooked slit ivy gourds.
Heat the remaining oil in a heavy bottomed skillet, add the cumin seeds, methi/ fenugreek seeds and curry leaves and saute till the fenugreek is just turning colour. Ensure it does not get burnt. Add the stuffed ivy gourd, and saute on low heat for 3-4 minutes. Make sure the vegetables have enough space in the pan as crowding them will make them break. add 1/4 cup of water, cover and cook on medium heat for about 12-15 minutes. Check in between and gently turn around with a slotted spoon. Once the moisture is almost dry and the gravy is just enough to coat the ivy gourds, turn off the heat, garnish with fresh coriander and serve hot with steamed rice.