This late summer vegetable is often mistaken for a squash but is actually an edible gourd. In addition to being featured in the cuisine of the Karen and Chin farmers at TTCF, it is used in Indian, Moroccan, Thai and Chinese dishes. It is also know as bottle gourd, lauki, duhdi, calabash, and slaoui. No matter what shape, these gourds can be prepared the same way: if they are young and tender, peel and cook them much like you would zucchini. If they are a bit more mature and the seeds are tough, simply peel it and scoop out the seeds and spongy flesh and then cook it in the same way. For example, you can use it in place of zucchini in a tagine or a summer salad. In fact, it is almost more versatile than zucchini because it can be braised, fried, steamed and sautéed without falling apart. Some people like to slightly undercook water gourd so that its delicate flavor is more evident.
STORAGE: Store water gourd on the counter at room temperature and use it within a week.
RECIPE: Crispy Onion or Gourd Fritters
makes 18-20 fritters
Traditionally served with fish noodle soup—these fritters can be made with bottle or water gourds, onions, or even summer squash. You can experiment with different flour combinations and even try making these gluten free. These are delicious dipped in a sweet chili sauce. Best served while hot and crispy.
4 tbsp rice flour
4 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp sticky rice flour
1 tbsp chickpea flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp peanut oil (or other high heat oil)
75 ml ice water
peanut or other high heat oil, frying
1 large or 2 medium onions, sliced
OR if using a gourd or summer squash, slice into 1/3 inch strips
Put all dry ingredients in a bowl, mix, and add oil. Stirring, add the cold water a little at a time til well mixed. Leave the batter to rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prep your vegetables.
If you have a deep fryer, perfect. If not, heat a good layer of oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Once sizzling hot, dip your onion or gourd slices into the batter and drop it into the oil. Fry in batches for 5-10 minutes, turning, til golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve warm.