Welcoming 2013 with a Duck Curry!
A very happy new year to all of you out there! I am sure 2013 will turn out to be amazing for us food and travel lovers. May we get to eat more and travel more - cheers to that!
We brought in our new year with a dish that is close to all of us in the family – duck curry with ash gourd or white melon (or white gourd). Now, however much I curse Bangalore for its traffic jams, auto drivers and their faulty fare meters, the snail paced service sectors, crazy bikers riding on footpaths, et al, yet I am thankful to the city for having some of the things that I always missed in the other cities we lived in. We never came across vegetables like squash (known as chow chow here), ash gourd and pumpkin flowers in Delhi or Mumbai. These were food that I had while growing up and coming across them here pleased me to no end. Heck, even the fresh water fish like Rohu and Katla tastes better here than they do in Assam!
Ash Gourd or White Melon, Courtesy: Google images
I remember one of our family friends suddenly craving for a taste of home during our festival Bihu and carrying out a combing operation of the Mumbai markets in search of a duck. So, imagine our happiness when we found that there were plenty of shops selling ducks here. Memory flash! I just remembered one small incident that happened in my school. Do let me tell you about it, please. When I was in school in Guwahati, kids were not too fond of having ducks. In fact, it was treated somewhat like a ‘taboo food’. I was in the 4th standard and one day one of our friend’s mom turned up in school for some work. She spoke to our class teacher and while leaving she turned to our friend and called out, “Guess what we have at home today? Quack quack!” She ‘flapped’ her arms and went away, leaving our friend red-faced. The poor girl was immediately surrounded and incredulously asked “Do you EAT duck?” Flustered, the girl looked around for an answer and finally blurted out, “Of course not! She was saying that she bought a duck as… as my….PET!” Children are indeed innocent.
Anyway, back to our duck. We mentally booked a fat duck for our New Year’s Eve dinner and thought of the best way to cook it. While there were plans of roasting it, finally the husband offered to cook it the traditional way with ash gourd. My favourite duck curry and I get to enjoy it without raising a finger, what better way to welcome the new year? I gave my approval without any delay.
Hence, this post is courtesy the husband, who did the entire works – prepping, chopping, cooking and clicking pictures. The best part of cooking the duck with ash gourd (or kumura in Assamese) is that the vegetable helps to cut down the richness of the fatty meat. Another good thing is that unlike in Assam, where we need to buy one whole ash gourd, here in Bangalore we can buy cut pieces wrapped in cling film. That reduced the prepping time to a large extent. Here is the recipe.
Duck Curry with Ash Gourd or White Melon
1 kg duck, cut into small pieces
3 large onions, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, chopped
2 potatoes, chopped into cubes
100 gm ash-gourd or white melon, chopped into cubes
2 green chillies, slit lengthwise
2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon each of turmeric powder, Kashmiri chilli powder, cumin powder and coriander powder – mixed in a small bowl with a little water to form a paste
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon vegetable oil for cooking
Heat the oil in a kadai or wok and add the bay leaves, sliced onions, chillies and ginger-garlic paste. Fry till the onions turn translucent. Then, put in the spice powder paste and stir.
Next, tip in the tomatoes and let them soften a bit. Now, add the duck meat and mix well with the spices. Cover and cook in low heat for around 15-20 minutes or till the meat is half-cooked. Then, put the chopped potatoes and gourd pieces, add salt and pepper and cover again till cooked.
Pour in water to the consistency of the gravy you want, check for salt and take it off the gas. Serve hot with rice and enjoy your meal!
The duck meat was succulent due to the slow cooking and the tender pieces of gourd accentuated its flavour. It was a memorable New Year’s Eve dinner for us as we savoured it and waited for the clock to strike 12 O’ clock. In case the duck is still a ‘taboo food’ for you, why not give this a try this new year and add a new dish to your food list? Bon appetite!