I was completely floored by friend Rajasi who is a eco-friendly feminist and blogger, when she sent me a picture of the Mangakarri that she had made, inspired from my post. It is her motivation that is making me write this.
Last summer, hubby was having bed rest and kitchen was having ‘no rest’. Added to it, my new ‘job’ of cooking was driving me nuts. Being the 100% Malayali that I am, I loved all parts of the coconut tree/plant, save it’s oil. All you non-mallus, no, you cannot judge. Exceptions add beauty to the rules. And my hubby was a hard-core fan of coconut oil. The taste was bearable after a few attempts, but the smell, especially when it was getting heated… OMG, it put me on a nausea spree. I started hunting for the smallest packs, in all brands available in Chennai, but nothing satisfied me. I also got one really small pack, after shelling a hefty sum, at one organic shop. But this one was better. Or, was it me getting acclimatised? I could not be sure.
Few days later, at my hubby’s home, I noticed how the coconut oil was smelling way better than even the organic one that I had. Upon inquiry (my MIL learned lots of these stuff from her MIL, of course over few years), I realised that my issues with coconut oil was because it was not pure enough. She was shocked to know that my mom & dad never used coconut oil in their cooking. Finally, she conceded that it must the reason why our parents don’t get along (no, religion is just so passé). I convinced her that a 500mL bottle itself would be too much for me, for I was sure that I was just accustomed, and did not actually like coconut oil.
Fast forward few days, with an ever-hungry hubby on bed-rest and me also in the ‘not working’ status, food supplies get over really soon. Not even a drop of my regular oils were to be seen; the summer heat too prevented me from going out. Finally, the humble bottle, preciously packed by my MIL had to be opened. I was nearly in tears. Was sure that all of my regular stuff would taste blah with this oil. I was determined to save my dishes from coconut oil, and wanted to make something new and simple for the day. Some probability (what else do you call it when the only veggies available were pumpkin, ashgourd, shallots n few curry leaves?), creativity and desperation made me conjure up this dish which I started calling “Sweet Summer”. It was not only awesome, but gave me the final push into being the eternal coconut oil lover.
- Pumpkin (ripe and yellow) – 200g
- Ash gourd (young is preferred) – 150g
- Green Chillies – 7-8 nos (if you have kaanthari mulaku or bird’s eye chilli 1 or 2 would do)
- Shallots – 10-12 nos (small onions/red onions as people would love to call)
- Coconut milk powder – 2-3 tbsp (or freshly grated and coarsely crushed coconut)
- Coconut oil – 1-2 tbsp
Peel and cut the pumpkin and ash gourd to medium-sized pieces and put them in a thick bottomed pan. Add water to around half the height of veggies. Close the pan, and let it cook. Once it is half-cooked, add the chopped green chillies to it. Check every 5 minutes, stir and cook completely, till the veggies get mashed with a spoon/ladle. Keep it closed for 2 minutes. Now add in the coconut milk powder/minced coconut and finely chopped shallots. Add in the oil, mix well, and close the lid. Switch on the stove again and let it heat on medium heat for about a minute and switch off. Open after 2 minutes, add in the curry leaves (chopped or full, as you like it) and keep it closed for another 2 minutes, and then serve.
It is sweet, yellowy, summery and lovely