Spouse, Sra having dinner
Spouse: Uncle just didn't like this dish, you know, he found it too sour, but I loved it, of course, because I love sour stuff.
Dinner next day
Spouse: Hey, there's brinjal (eggplant/aubergine) in this!
Sra: No, there isn't.
Spouse: Come on, I can see the pulp, all squishy.
Sra: Yes, it's there.
Spouse, Sra continue with their dinner
And so there was, the brinjal pulp. But it wasn't any ploy to get the Spouse to eat something-that-he-doesn't-which-is-good-for-him, just a way to include more vegetables into a mixed vegetable dish and include him in the process of cleaning it out faster!
Most of the vegetables are stuff that the Spouse won't even deign to look at when their identity is clear - yellow pumpkin, beans of the country variety, small gourds further cut up, you get the picture ... It did have something the Spouse took a liking to, though - kachri powder from my recent trip to Rajasthan.
See that wrinkly little thing there, looking like a bleached walnut, a crumpled dead leaf? It's actually a gourd itself, like a small, tiny watermelon. My friends and I visited the market near our hotel in Jaipur at about 8 p.m specifically for this - I bought about half a kilo of the fresh ones and during the vegetable seller's patient description of how it could be used in a chutney, lost patience but kept nodding, so naturally, I did not know what to do with it when I got back home. More frustratingly, peeling it didn't help - it depleted the gourd of three-fourths of its substance and I was left with very little to use - the peel was quite tough and took much of the flesh with it!
I probably didn't know how to do it right, because there's a picture below from my trip that shows that someone in Rajasthan got it right!
I put it in dal and it tasted very much like dosakai (melon cucumber). But I got tired of it after two dals and gave it away. Perhaps there is a recipe for fresh kachri chutney on the Net, but none else.
Then I launched into the dried kachri that I had bought in Jaisalmer (which is also where I saw the fresh kachri first). It needs to be pounded to powder, a chore I somehow enjoy. Perhaps pervertedly, but I do.
I used Tarla Dalal's recipe at first but two tries on, I've developed my own mix of vegetables with whatever's available, and spices. In doing so, I'm probably violating some hallowed rule about amounts and proportions or ratio of hard to soft vegetables and non-includables, but that makes it an ever-original, and evergreen recipe, doesn't it, with surprises at every stage! Most recently, I used a combination of yellow pumpkin, brinjal, dondakai/tendli/coccinea and I forget what else, with this recipe.
What you need:
Assorted vegetables, chopped - to make 3-4 cups
Garlic: 5-10 cloves, minced (optional)
Shah jeera/jeera/caraway/cumin seed: 1 tsp
Plain chilli powder/mixed up chilli powder: 1-2 tsp (I use the latter)
Turmeric powder: 1 tsp
Tomato: 2-3, diced
Kachri powder: 1 tbsp
Lime juice: To taste
Salt: To taste
Oil: 2-3 spoons
Temper heated oil with the cumin/caraway and the garlic.
Add the vegetables and the turmeric and chilli powder and mix well. Cover and cook on a slow flame till the vegetables are cooked, ensuring they aren't sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Add the tomato and salt and cook for a few more minutes.
Add the lime juice and kachri, and mix well.
This is a very popular meat tenderizer. See a pretty picture and more info here.
And here's more info from Tarla Dalal herself!
Quite a few recipes mention amchur as a substitute and I've made similar curries with both - the tastes are very, very different.
Here's a post that attracted my attention and two more discoveries and experiences of kachri from the blog world.
This post goes off to Graziana of Erbe in Cucina who's hosting Weekend Herb Blogging now run by Haalo and created by Kalyn.
Weekend Herb Blogging Mixed vegetable Vegetarian musings