Last week, for the first time, I bought at the souq some fresh calabashes. I never saw this vegetable before (it has a short season here). and I didn’t know a thing about it. Also called bottle gourd, or lauki, the calabash is a vining plant from the cucurbita family. The young, tender calabash (a fruit) is harvested to be eaten as a vegetable. When harvested mature and dried, calabash is used as a bottle, smoking pipe, or music instrument.
I made this vegetarian calabash and split pea stew for Meatless Monday. It’s adapted from lauki chana dal recipes. The stew serves two, and is ready in 70 minutes or so.
- 2 teaspoons of olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
- ¼ teaspoon of crushed cayenne pepper
- 10 cherry tomatoes, cut into halves
- 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
- 2 small, young calabashes (about 350 g), peeled and diced
- ½ cup of split peas, picked and rinsed
- 3 cups of water
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 small piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
- 1 teaspoon of garam masala
In a cooking pot over medium heat, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil, add the cumin seeds and cayenne pepper, and cook stirring often for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add the cherry tomatoes, and cook for 3-4 minutes until soft. Stir in the turmeric.
Add the calabash and split peas, cover with the water, and season with salt to taste. Increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-high, and simmer covered until the peas and calabash are tender, about 40 minutes.
In a small pan over medium-high heat, add the remaining olive oil and the onion, and cook for 3 minutes stirring often. Stir in the ginger and garlic, and cook until the onion is soft and translucent. Season with salt, and stir the onion mixture into the calabash and split stew, and cook for 2-3 minutes more.
Remove from the heat, stir in the garam masala, and let rest covered for 5 minutes before serving.
Serve with brown rice, white rice or naan.