Also known as Indian teasel gourd, kantola is the Hindi name for a mildly bitter, bright green gourd with an outer layer of soft spines. Although pricy when bought fresh in the U.S., the oval-shaped vegetable is affordable in frozen form at Indian groceries.
Use it: Quarter the kantola, then make a sabji, a dish comprised of a vegetable sauteed with Indian spices. Add kantola when preparing dal, or slowly roast it to take advantage of its dense, meaty texture.
Buy it: Seema Enterprises, 10635 Page Ave., Maryland Heights, 314.423.9990 and 14238 Manchester Road, Manchester, 636.391.5914, seemaent.com
– Ligaya Figueras
½ white onion
12 oz. kantola
2 Tbsp. canola oil
½ tsp. mustard seeds
¼ tsp. asafetida (hing)*
¼ tsp. turmeric
¼ tsp. ground coriander
¼ tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. (or less) ground red pepper
Kosher salt to taste
• First, prepare the onion: Slice it into thin half-rings. Then, cut the slices in half. Set aside.
• If using fresh kantola, cut the vegetable in half lengthwise, then quarter each half. If using frozen kantola, let it thaw. (Frozen kantola is usually sold pre-cut.)
• Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and coat with oil. Once the oil has warmed, add the mustard seeds and asafetida.
• When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the kantola, stirring to coat. Cover the skillet with a lid, stirring periodically to prevent the kantola from scorching or sticking to the pan, for about 5 to 7 minutes.
• Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the turmeric, coriander, cumin, red pepper and salt.
• When the kantola begins to turn golden, add the spices and onion to the skillet. Stir to combine.
• Cook until the onion is golden and the flavors meld, about 2 to 3 minutes.
• Serve as a side dish with dal, paratha (Indian flatbread) or rice, and chutney.