Ridge gourd, called peerkkangaai in Tamil and beerakaaya in Telugu, can be used in different forms. I personally like the thogayal made with this vegetable rather than the paal koottu or sambar or anything else. It is very simple and easy to make. One cannot go wrong!!!! Also, peerkkangaai after it is left to dry on its vine can be used as a natural loofah :-).
Ingredients (about3 - 4 servings):
Ridge gourd - 2 medium sized, washed, peeled and cut into small cubes
Cooking oil - 2 teaspoons
Dried red chillies - 3 to 4 (vary this to suit your taste)
Tamarind - 1/2 inch stick if fresh/about 1/4 teaspoon if using paste
Urad dhal - about 1/4 cup (using a measuring cup)
Asafoetida - 1/4 teaspoon
Salt to taste
1. Heat about a teaspoon of oil in a pan, fry red chillies first followed by urad dhal, tamarind and asafoetida, until the urad dhal turns light golden brown in color and set aside to cool down.
2. In the same pan from step 1, add another teaspoon of oil and fry the cubed ridge gourd until it becomes tender (this doesn't take too long). The ridge gourd leaves a lot of water during this process and drastically reduces in size. Set this aside to cool.
3. Grind the contents from step 1 and 2 with very little or no water to a paste. Peerkkangaai thogayal is ready (seasoning with mustard is optional)!
Peerkkangaai thogayal and moar kuzhambu make a wonderful combo. Enjoy!!!