When I went on my bottle gourd buying spree the other day, I had an objective. Not only was I buying bottle gourd as part of my vegetarian lunch, I was also eager to try using the same bottle gourd as a dessert. Bottle gourd is a relative/kissing cousin of zucchini. Like the ubiquitous zucchini is here, so is bottle gourd in India. As it turns out, bottle gourd is found pretty much everywhere on the planet, including the good old U S of A. It all depends on where one shops. Once you know some of the various aliases Bottle Gourd travels under, it's pretty easy to find in almost every sort of ethic market. Almost every culture on this big blue marble enjoys this versatile fruit so why not incorporate it into the American diet? Like zucchini, bottle gourd can be cooked as a savory and also as a sweet.
Almost everyone is familiar with the hit-and-run "zucchini bread/cupcakes on the doorstep" move. This is how the neighbors get rid of their bumper crop of squash come summers end. Now for those of us without a gluten problem, this is fine up to a point. But what about everybody who needs to be gluten free? Surely there must be a better way to use up the spare squash that doesn't involve cupcake papers and a baking tin? There is. It's called Bottle Gourd Kheer... or as I like to refer to it, Riceless Pudding.
The principal behind this dessert is that of the traditional Indian Carrot Halwa, or Carrot Pudding. That is a lovely concoction of grated carrots, milk and sugar dotted with nuts and raisins. It's a great way to get vegetables into those who might otherwise shun them. The recipe doesn't just end with carrots. It applies to squash too, particularly bottle gourd. And if that's not available, it can also be made with zucchini! So for those of you with no access to bottle gourd, just substitute zucchini and you have the equivalent of a rice pudding that contains no rice...only vegetables. How's that for low carb?
Bottle Gourd Pudding
Here's what to do:
Peel 1 lb of bottle gourd or zucchini
Grate the peeled bottle gourd or zucchini in a food processor.
In a large pot or skillet melt 1 Tbs of unsalted butter.
When the butter has melted toss in:
The peeled and grated bottle gourd or zucchini. Stir it around for about 5 minutes or so until it's softened
2 cups of milk
2 Tbs of split cashews
Stir everything together well and let it cook down a bit further to a thick consistency.
Voila! You have pudding! It looks and tastes similar to rice pudding and yet...no rice, only bottle gourd or zucchini.