Lauki (Loki)

How to prepare this exotic squash

This vegetable is excellent for balancing liver function for most people. It is often recommended by ayurvedic physicians when the liver is inflamed and cannot efficiently process food for maximum nutrition and assimilation.

How to recognize lauki:

Lauki is a squash, resembling yellow crook-neck squash in shape but a light green in color, sometimes much larger and thicker. It grows up to two feet long in some areas, and starts anywhere from ten inches in length. It has a smooth surface like eggplant, but not as shiny. The best quality is firm, light and even in color without many blemishes.

Where to find lauki:

Lauki is sold by many names, depending on who is selling it. Ask for lauki, or loki, in your local Indian or Asian food store. Ask for kakunsa where Italian foods are sold. Ask for fuzzy squash in Canada. And you can special-order it in many U.S. food stores as white pumpkin, benares pumpkin or long white gourd. These are the names for the sweet variety. Avoid the bitter variety, called bitter gourd. The scientific names are lagenaria vulgaris or cucurbita.

How to prepare lauki:

Wash and peel. Chop into small cubes, about ½". Steam until slightly soft, like yellow squash, usually about 15 minutes. Alternatively, place in frying pan or wok, with one teaspoon of ghee and sauté on medium heat until slightly soft and moist. Melt one tablespoon of ghee in a large frying pan until it turns clear. Mix ½ teaspoon whole cumin and ½ teaspoon of turmeric into the ghee until the aromas are released. Add the steamed or cooked lauki and evenly coat it with the ghee-spice mixture. Serve immediately, not too hot.

Tip: Whole grains make a perfect complement. Basmati rice is good for those with a weak or inflamed liver.

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