Sunday, February 1, 2009

Snake Gourd in the Milk of Knowledge

Podalangai Pal Koottu & the Milk of Knowledge!Snake Gourd in a Milky Gravy
My uncle and aunt visited us after a very long time, and the recap of all the events in our families were exchanged with great enthusiasm and gusto. We sat around the huge dining table for a grand dinner spread, chatting and passing the dishes to one another. Uncle then told us that his son-in-law attended a Vipassana Meditation session. The Vipassana Meditation technique is taught over a 10-day period, where attendees follow a very stringent code of discipline, including not speaking, avoiding any kind of entertainment and so on. Attendees could only eat the simple vegetarian food provided. Podalangai or Snake Gourd, he said, was served very often, as it was believed to expand ones Gnana or Knowledge. As we listened in solemn attention, my brother suddenly took the moment to a lighter vein with a “Pass me some of that Gnana Koottu”. Laughter broke out at the spontaneous new name given to the Podalangai Koottu (Snake Gourd Gravy) that was prepared by my sister-in-law. The name turned out to be all the more apt, as the koottu happened to be a rather unusual ‘Pal Koottu’ or Milk based Koottu, and Uncle remembered the following story.
The sthala poorana (literally means history of the place) at SIRGAZHI in Tanjore district, states that Goddess Parvathi breast fed an infant who lay crying at the temple pond with ‘Gnana Pal’ or the 'milk of knowledge'! Eventually the child became none other than the child saint Thiru Gnana Sambhandar.

Well Gnanam or Agnanam (opposite of Gnanam), like any other native vegetable, snake gourd too possesses great medicinal properties
Snake gourd can be used to prepare a variety of dishes. Among them, a dish with a black colour base, and one with a white colour base, on the same table may kindle ones curiosity. Follow the recipe here to prepare a pepper and tamarind gravy, and add sautéed snake gourd, to make Podalangai Milagu Kuzhambu.
Here is the recipe for the white Gnana Koottu or Podalangai Pal Koottu.
INGREDIENTS:Snake gourd – 1 large (2 cups when chopped)
Whole black pepper -. ½ tsp
Cumin seeds – ¼ tsp
Salt – ½ tsp
Milk – 1 tea cup
Rice flour – 1 tsp
Cooking oil – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – a few

1.Chop off the ends of the snake gourd and slit it lengthwise. Scrape off and discard the fibre and seeds from the center. Chop the snake gourd into pieces.
2. Heat oil and add coarsely crushed pepper and cumin.
3. When the pepper is fried, add curry leaves and the snake gourd.
4. Stir in only a pinch of salt, cover with a lid and cook on low fire. This ensures that the lovely green colour of snake gourd is retained.
5. The vegetable must be cooked but still remain a bit crunchy.
6. Mix the rice flour into the milk, and add to the snake gourd .
7. Let it boil for a minute, and then blend in the remaining salt.
Remove from fire and the Gnana Pal Koottu is ready.

19 Post your Comments:

S.R.Ramachandran said...

i need gnana kootu very much. appa

YOSEE said...

Hahaha ! The next time i have snakegourd, i will try to imbibe some gnanam and drive out agnanam!

Ivy said...

Until I read the whole post I thought you were referring to a real snake and it gave me shivers, as I never heard of snake gourd before. Lovely post, it's always nice to learn new things.

Chitra said...

Thanks for the useful info abt podalangai:)Nice kootu!!My mil do this with surakkai(bottle gourd)!!will try urs soon:)

Dibs said...

Haha Ivy - Thats funny! This is a veggy site and you may not even find egg - let alone a snake! Well... in Hindu mythlogy a mammoth snake was used as a 'kitchen aid' though, to churn abrosia out of the oceans!! :-))

Dibs said...

Appa, Yosee, Chitra - Wish you a very knowledgeable time with podalangais!

Adlak's tiny world said...

wow both looks delicious and inviting.. nice info too.

Finla said...

Hi hi i love ivy's comment.

Asha said...

I love Padavalkayi, don't get it here unless I grow them myself or go to Atlanta! That dark colored dish is new to me, must try next time I get that vegetable.

Getting ready for Super Bowl! :)

Vaishali said...

I'm always looking for ivy gourd recipes, Dibs, and this one sounds very interesting and looks delicious. Love the story behind it too. I gotta try it with soy milk. Thanks!

Dibs said...

Hi Vaishali - This is different from ivy gourd (tondekai), this is snake gourd (podalangai) - both are very very different! Pal koottu with ivy gourd may taste nice too!!

Sunshinemom said...

Ippidiyum oru gyanam unda!! I am enlightened, Div! Innime podalangai ku nalla madippu undu:) Kootu is new to me - I always made it like a stew with chana dal, or molagootal!!

Lakshmi said...

Loved Ivys comment :)) Kootu looks very creamy and delicious. I usually cook padvalkayi with kadalebele or hesarubele. Will try this next time I buy this vegetable:)

jayasree said...

Gnanam info is very interesting. Now on, podalangai will be treated with respect.Have tried a recipe with podalangai and milk from another blog. Some of the ingredients were different though. Shall give a try to ur version too.

Dibs said...

Thanks Adlak's tiny world, and Jayasree!

Asha - enjoy super bowl! Let me know if you ever grow podalangai at home! See what i found on google images!!

Happy Cook, LG - We loved Ivy's comment , and it was the highlight of the day! Haha !

Sunshinemom Harini - Yes podalangai has found a new madippu with me as well!!

Poonam said...

First time here!!!Looks yummy...I used to make only stir fried snake gourd, will give this a try!!!

TestingSalesforce said...

sooper yaar...By the way, how it will taste? sweet or just like kootu?

Dibs said...

Thanks Poonam!

Anu - The only slight sweetness is the natural sweetness from milk and the snakegourd.Since we dont add any sugar, its not otherwise sweet. Jeera pepper and salt gives it a good flavour. It tastes very different from the dal and vegetable you just make it and know the taste :-))))

Janaki Gopikrishna said...

woow very innovative cooking. within south india so many variations in cooking