I knew Ivy Gourd as its telegu name “Dondakai”. Now I don’t know why my mom chose to use the telegu name but it sure did give my husband an opportunity to make fun of me. When I was newly married, everything and anything I said was carefully watched so he can pick on a slang or language usage different from his and laugh about it. One morning when I said I’ll be making dondakai he had a rolling laugh and suddenly turned serious and was standing in so much doubt on his face. On further pondering he jokingly said he didn’t know he married a telegu girl and burst out with more laughter. From that time on however cautiously I tried to use the name kovakai (tamil name) it just comes out as dondakai. Ironically now my husband calls kovakai as dondakai…and whenever he does, I leave the room with a sneer. Cha-Ching!!!
I didn’t know ivy gourd and paneer go well with one another until I tried at my friend Deepa’s place. With crisp fried ivy gourd and onions combined with seasoned paneer makes this a delicious treat to savor with rice or rotis. My kids just love this dish and no matter how much I make I’ve never had leftovers. Try it you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Ivy gourd (Dondakai/Kovakai) — 2 cups (sliced thinly lengthwise/Julienne cut)
Paneer — 1 cup (diced in to small cubes)
Onion — 2 (finely chopped)
Mustard seeds — 1 Tbsp
Turmeric Powder – 1/2 tsp
Chilli Powder — 1 1/2 Tbsp
Garam Masala — 1 Tbsp
Coriander Powder(Dhania Powder) — 1 1/2 Tbsp
Cumin Powder(Jeera Powder) — 1 Tbsp
Salt — to taste
Oil — as needed
1. Heat about 2 Tbsp of oil in a wide pan and fry cubed paneer. Stir occasionally to prevent crumbling the paneer and to get evenly browned cubes. Add little salt, 1/4 tsp cumin powder, 1/4 tsp chilli powder, 1/4 tsp of garam masala powder. Stir well and when the paneer gets crisp, transfer them to a plate. Keep aside.
2. Heat the pan again, add 3 Tbsp of oil, when hot add mustard seeds and let it splutter. Now add onions and fry till they are golden brown (Note: Sprinkling little salt over the onions speeds the frying process by releasing the moisture from the onions). Now add thinly sliced ivy gourd (dondakai/kovakai), salt, turmeric powder. Cover and cook till the Ivy gourd is cooked well. Keep frying till the Ivy gourd changes color and gets crispy. Now add all the remaining dry masala powders (chilli powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, garam masala) and mix well. Fry for another 3 minutes. Now add the seasoned paneer cubes prepared in step 1 and mix well. Switch off the flame and serve hot with rice or roti. Enjoy!!!
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