“This healthy vegan dish is an easy one to cook, and has a ‘hide and seek’ element in it. The crust is lightly crispy on the first bite, then smooth as you dig into the stuffing… yum! It goes really well with any beverage, from wines and bubbles to tea and kopi,” says Soumita Bhattacharya, an Indian expat and mum.
Serves four (two barrels per person)
• 250g firm tofu (bean curd), grated
• 8 pieces pointed gourd (can be found at Tekka Market or most local wet markets)
• 100g grated coconut
• ½ teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground
• ½ teacup raisins, roughly chopped
• 100g milk powder
• ½ teaspoon cumin powder
• ½ teaspoon saunf (fennel seed) powder
• Salt to taste
• Refined oil for frying
1. With a peeler, roughly scrape the outer skin of the pointed gourd. Chop off the pointed corner of the vegetable only on one side.
(Tip: Do not cut off a huge section, or else the stuffing will come out later.) Insert the holder of a narrow teaspoon inside the pointed gourd and take out everything from within the vegetable. The pointed gourd should become a hollow barrel. Repeat for all the pointed gourds.
2. Separate the seeds from the scooped out, soggy insides of the gourds (and throw away the seeds). Then use a mixer to make a paste, before setting aside. (Note: the deseeding will take a bit of time – around 10 minutes for eight pieces of pointed gourd.)
3. Time to cook the stuffing: heat two tablespoons of refined oil in a pan, add the grated firm tofu, grated coconut, soggy veggie paste, milk powder, black pepper, cumin and saunf powders, salt and raisins. Cook for 10 minutes on low heat. Then remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature.
4. Fill each gourd barrel with the stuffing, then fry in refined oil on a low flame until golden brown.
(Note: Don’t worry about the open part of the barrel; if the stuffing is tight and firmly filled, it will not come out!)
5. Serve the tofu barrels hot with your choice of dip (Soumita suggests a combination of spicy and sweet dips).
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