Mama’s Punjabi Recipes – Ghiye ka Raita (Grated Bottle Gourd Or Squash Yogurt Sauce)


There are many types of raita to choose from when deciding on a complement to an Indian meal and the choice often comes down to the effect that you want to achieve with the food. For example, if the food is very spicy and served with roti, then a pudina (mint leaf) raita is probably best to soothe the mouth as the spices go down. If, on the other hand, the meal is composed of rice and vegetables, a boondi (gram flour drop) raita or an aloo raita is a good complement. Never eat moolis (radishes) with yogurt or in a raita as the mooli is a naturally cooling vegetable and is not easy to digest.
But there is one raita that goes well with many Punjabi meals, it is the ghiya (squash) raita. It takes a little more preparation but the end result is worth it. It is especially effective in the hot summers as it helps cool you down. When ghiya – also known as kaddu or lauki – is eaten with yogurt it is not only a good filler and great for people watching their weight, but also aids in digestion. Be careful to use the thick, light green squash and not the zucchini squash most usually found in grocery stores in the US. When picking one, check that it is not hard
Ghiya is a member of the calabash family of gourds, has a light green skin and white flesh and can be huge and round or slim and long or bottle shaped. It is high in potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and vitamin C and its juice is considered very beneficial for health.
Because it has quite a bland taste by itself, ghiya is often made with other ingredients in an appetizing dish. Ghiya Raita is usually hard to find in restaurants as they mostly serve the easier to make boondi or piyaaz raitas instead, so many younger people have no idea what ghiya raita tastes like.

500gm saddi dahi (plain yogurt)
1 medium giya (bottle gourd or squash)
½ cup doodh (milk)
½ teaspoon jeera til (cumin seeds) – optional if you like the taste
Spices to taste: namak (salt), mirch (red pepper)

1. Peel the squash and then grate into medium pieces.

2. Place in a saucepan of water, and bring it to a boil for 10 minutes. Run through a strainer and collect the grated squash. Let it cool down for a 20 minutes.

3. Place the dahi in a bowl and stir it thoroughly adding the milk to it. If you have too much of the grated squash, save some for use on another day.

4. Add the cooled down grated squash to and mix thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you like, roast the jeera seeds on a tava (flat plate), grind them and sprinkle on the raita (you can also substitute this with powdered cumin).

5. Chill for 10 minutes and serve.

Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur, India before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her mid-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share some of her delectable Punjabi recipes.