Luffa gourds, also called ridge gourds or Chinese okra, are a popular ingredient in India and Southeast Asia, though in America they’re mostly known for the exfoliating sponges they become once dried and cleaned. Young, fresh luffa gourds, which are similar to a zucchini or summer squash in texture and flavor, can often be found at Asian specialty markets. While this recipe calls for small fresh shrimp, this dish can also be prepared using dried shrimp, which you can get at Asian and Indian grocery stores. For a vegetarian version, swap out the shrimp for diced cooked potatoes.
What You Will Need
- One 1-lb luffa gourd, or ridge gourd
- 1 tbsp. kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 1 tbsp. ghee
- 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 3⁄4 cup finely diced yellow onion
- 2 green Indian chiles, stemmed and split down middle
- 1 tsp. coriander seed
- 1 tsp. cumin seed
- 1 tsp. fenugreek seed
- 1 tbsp. garam masala
- 1⁄2 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1 medium tomato, finely chopped (½ cup)
- 1 lb. small shrimp, shelled and deveined (defrost if frozen)
- 1 tsp. amchoor (dried mango powder), or white wine vinegar
- Steamed basmati rice or roti, to serve
- Use a vegetable peeler to remove most of the luffa’s skin. If there are many dry, hard seeds, use a spoon to remove and discard them. Cut the luffa into 1-inch cubes, transfer to a colander set over a medium bowl, and toss with 1 tablespoon of salt. Set aside to drain at room temperature for 20 minutes, shaking and stirring occasionally. Rinse and drain well to remove any excess salt and set aside.
- In a medium pot set over medium heat, add the ghee and olive oil. When the ghee mixture is hot and shimmery, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and starting to brown, 7–8 minutes. Add the chiles, coriander, cumin, and fenugreek and fry on low heat, stirring frequently, until the spices are lightly toasted and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garam masala and turmeric and cook for 20 seconds, then add the drained luffa. Stir well and cook, stirring occasionally, until the luffa is softened, 6–7 minutes. Add the tomato and continue to cook until it breaks down into a coarse sauce, about 5 minutes more. Stir in the shrimp, and season with kosher salt. Turn the heat down to low and cook just until the shrimp turn pink and are cooked through, 3–4 minutes. Add the amchoor and adjust seasoning with additional salt as needed, then transfer to a serving bowl. Serve with basmati rice or roti.