Peechingya Theeyal ~ridge-gourd in brown gravy~
Two kinds of peechingya (ridge-gourd) are commonly available – one is the gourd thats allowed to be dried to make nice, exfoliating loofah, the kind that we pay couple of dirhams for at body shop, and the other is this one with proper ridges on its body. Its sort of like the armadillo of the vegetable world. Thick skinned, but once pared and cooked, incredibly soft with a delicate flavour. Although when it comes to flavour I prefer the other loofah gourd. With a prominent and permanent place in our kitchen garden, my grandmother used to chop them up along with potatoes and make a yummy subzi to go with chappatis and masoor dal. A few were allowed to dry for the loofah business, which was used everyday to scrub us at bath times. So I do like the loofah gourds a degree more than the ridge gourds, but then I find only the ridged ones in supermarkets here. Here’s a theeyal recipe.
Theeyal is a malayali favourite and has fried or sautéed vegetables in a thick gravy of roasted coconut, coriander, pepper and tamarind, all easily available ingredients in Kerala. The word theeyal probably has been derived from ‘theeyil’ malayalam for ‘in the fire’, and could mean its sometimes fiery taste (if its made too spicy) or it could be because the ingredients have been roasted over a wood fire. Theeyals can be prepared with a variety of vegetables like shallots (ulli theeyal), bittergourd (pavakkya theeyal), aubergines (vazhuthenengya theeyal) and so on.
In this theeyal recipe I have neither fried nor roasted the chief ingredient – the ridge-gourd. The gourd has been slow boiled, and the curry ingredients have been dry roasted on my gas stove. Nonetheless it tasted good.
for the curry paste
for the seasoning