Thursday, October 25, 2012

Soutekayi gojju - curried cucumbers in coconut sauce

I am finally sitting down tonight and dismantling our bommala koluvu and cleaning up all the stuff in the basement. All the dolls will rest cozily wrapped up in papers and inside their boxes until next year. Some will go back to their every day place on the mantle or around the house. I am looking forward to the next month as we have family visiting, it will be busy and fun and no doubt lotsa food.

As I have mentioned before, gojju is a 'very Karnataka' recipe, in a very simplistic description it is curried vegetables and does not have lentils in it. It is a very common side dish for a rice based meal. Gojjus are typically high on their spices (chilies and tamarind) and go well with a piping hot Saaru/rasam on a rainy day.

Cucumber gojju is a very simple and common quick fix as it doesn't involve any cooking. Chop the cucumbers, add the ground masala and the 'hasi gojju (raw gojju)' is ready to eat. I eat it like a heavily dressed salad without really feeling the need for rice, they are good to mix with rice or have with rotis.

One of my doddamma's is a fantastic cook, her gojjus, saaru, uppinakayi are all to really die for, she is the one that eats mosaravalakki on a regular basis for dinner and I have sat in the kitchen waiting for her to drop a handful into my stretched palms :-). She made butter at home and put a dollop on top of the akki rotti or dosa for morning breakfast, I can never forget that taste even after all these years. She is not only an awesome cook but is very artistic and is adept at making things with household raw materials - she had taught me how to make wire baskets, beaded purses, home made winnows by soaking and grinding old newspapers, making clay lamps and many, many more. I only absorbed a tiny bit of her oceanic skills given my artistic limitations. Many of the things she did are either dying art or already extinct and replaced by store bought, plastic stuff.  She is old and frail now and doesn't cook anymore..but for all of us the taste of her cooking still lingers on the tongue.

Cucumbers are chopped very small for this gojju, doddamma used a method called 'kochu' in Kannada, she used the traditional vegetable chopper/coconut shredder and take a whole, peeled cucumber and keep making sharp, an inch and half long vertical cuts all over the cucumber, then turn it around and chop them horizontally to get really small pieces. Repeat this process of alternate vertical & horizontal cuts until you reached the end of the cucumber. This gives the tiniest yet not mashed up cucumber pieces best suited for this gojju and the traditional kosambaris. You can kind of imitate this process with knife or just chop them as small as you can. Choose a cucumber that is tender or cut in half and discard the seeds.
What do you need to make cucumber gojju? 
Serves 4 people as side dish
1 big green cucumber
1 heaped Tblsp grated coconut
1 Tsp crushed jaggery/brown sugar
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
3-4 twigs of cilantro (optional)
To roast in oil:
1 Tsp oil
2 Tblsp chana dal/kadle bele
6-8 fenugreek seeds
1 Tblsp white sesame seeds
4-5 green chilies (adjust to taste)
1X1 inch piece of tamarind
To Season: 
1 Tsp oil
1 Tsp mustard
4-5 fenugreek seeds
2-3 curry leaves
pinch of asafoetida

How do you make cucumber gojju? 
  • Wash, peel and chop cucumber into very small pieces (discard seeds before chopping if they are big and hard).
  • Heat a Tsp oil on medium heat and fry all the ingredients under 'roast in oil' until chana dal turns light brown and green chilies develop blisters.
  • Take the roasted ingredients + coconut + jaggery + salt + 1 Tblsp of chopped cucumbers and cilantro (if using)to your mixer/blender and blend into a very smooth paste. Adding cucumber while grinding lets out water needed for grinding. The paste should be semi solid or a thick chutney. 
  • Add the ground paste to cucumbers and mix well.
  • Prepare seasoning - heat oil, add asafoetida, mustard, fenugreek seeds and let them pop. add curry leaves and switch off. 
  • Pour the seasoning on top of gojju and give it a mix. 
  • I use the long thin English cucumbers sometimes which hardly has any grown seeds, so the entire thing gets chopped up. 
  • Adding cucumber pieces while grinding lets water and helps the grinding process, if you want add a little bit of water but make sure the ground paste resembles a thick chutney. 
  • Serve this soon after preparing as cucumber leaves a lot of water on mixing with water and makes the gravy diluted if you keep it for long. 
  • Addition of jaggery is recommended but not mandatory. 
  • Adding fenugreek seeds to the seasoning gives a wonderful flavor and bite to the gojju, skip this if you don't like fenugreek.
  • Adding tamarind while roasting the ingredients softens it up and makes it easier on the grinder. 
  • Break the green chilies by hand or roughly chop them before adding them into the hot oil, whole green chilies pop all over the place. 


NamsVeni Pothas said...

cucumber gojju is a lovely dish to eat with any thing or simply like that. very tasty.

Vidhya said...

Yummy the flavor of cucumber!

Kannada Cuisine said...

Slurp! love gojjus of all variety. A dollop of ghee, hot rice and I am in heaven

Priya said...

Never cooked cucumber this way, highly inviting gojju.